Superintendents committed to close education policy gap

COLUMBUS — On Nov. 15, approximately 200 public school superintendents and other local educational leaders representing more than 70 Ohio counties will be gathering on the Ohio Capitol steps as a sign of their commitment to help close the gap between what many of Ohio’s citizens want and the statewide education policies that are currently in place. Specifically, the event will take place at 10 a.m. on the West Plaza facing High Street.

Superintendent of Shadyside Local Schools, John Haswell states, “the current high school graduation point system that was developed by the Ohio Board of Education is having a negative impact on a large percentage of our high school students.”

“Approximately 40 percent of the students that took the state mandated end of year exams last year in Shadyside are in jeopardy of not graduating in 2018 and 2019,” Haswell said. “The emphasis given to these standardized tests will have a negative impact on children throughout Ohio in the near future. A score on a single exam has more weight than 180 days of classroom instruction.”

“As public school superintendents, we see every day how our current statewide education policies are impacting our staff, students and communities,” said Olmsted Falls City Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Lloyd. “With the reality of these policies in clear view, we can serve as a lynchpin to bring our staff, our students, the citizens of our communities and our state policymakers together in a positive spirit of mutual trust, respect and cooperation to address everyone’s concerns.”

Two years ago, Ohio’s public school superintendents kicked off a grassroots initiative to return local control to their public schools by providing their citizens with a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy. Their voice is the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network. One of the initial actions of this statewide grassroots network was to ask many of Ohio’s citizens how they view education reform and its impact upon their local schools.

From January 2014 through April 2016, four in‐depth public opinion surveys were conducted in 18 Ohio counties, which have a combined population of 3,052,416 (U.S. Census, 2013). T he results from these surveys indicate that a majority of residents believe their public schools are doing a good job of preparing children for their future and they want their boards of education to be in control of their local schools.

Through a recently conducted statewide survey of Ohio’s public school superintendents, the top rated concerns were:

• The current graduation point system created by the Ohio Department of Education will arbitrarily lower the graduation rates of the class of 2018 and any class after them.

• The continual expansion of Ohio’s educational assessment system has led to an over-emphasis on standardized testing for our students, which negatively impacts the focus of classroom instruction.

• The inconsistent and unreliable fluctuations on achievement and value‐added/student growth measures included in Ohio’s Report Card reporting system needs to be addressed.

The group of district leaders indicated, “We want to roll our collective sleeves up and work with our stakeholders, constituent groups and Ohio’s elected officials to fix a graduation and State reporting system that is currently in great need of repair. Our students and our citizens deserve a reporting system they can trust.”