So, as it turns out, the Senator believes that her comments, whatever they were, have been taken out of context. Here is a copy of her message...
Mr. Jablonski....this quote was really taken out of context and doesn’t bear any resemblance to what I actually said. I have consistently placed the blame for the current graduation fiasco on a too rapid implementation of the new requirements. Based on the quote you provided I can’t even tell what I tried to say and I supposedly said it!
OK, so if I'm wrong, and this were taken out of context as Senator Lehner suggests, I apologize. In her defense, many articles on the meeting said that she told the state school board that if they did not fix the issue, then the legislature will. This is very important because the state board's band-aid on this situation will need to be fixed permanently by the legislature. If the ODE follows its own guidelines, it will recommend legislative changes based on ESSA stakeholder input, which vehemently indicates that we need to reduce the level of standardized testing to federal minimums.
To be honest, I want to believe Senator Lehner. My problem stems from her indication that she has "consistently" blamed the fiasco on too rapid implementation of new requirements. When I attended a state school board meeting in June, board member A.J. Wagner was articulating the problems with the graduation requirements. My wife and I were there to support A.J.'s position, so were terribly disheartened when Senator Lehner laughed it off. She assured the state board that there would be no problem. She said it would work out as well as the 3rd grade reading guarantee. Having spoken to an actual 3rd grade teacher or two, this prospect scared the hell out of me. Third grade has become a meat grinder of assessments.
Because of my concern with the term "consistently," and to clarify my position, I shot back a reply to the Senator, and got another timely response, to which I provided yet another reply because I don't like the proposed decrease to 15 total points required for graduation, but prefer the plan proposed by Olmsted Falls Superintendent Dr. Lloyd. His plan involves a full safe harbor for this year's juniors, or a gradual increase in points beginning with 12 this year. His comments to the state board, including his proposed solution to the graduation problem can be found at the bottom of this article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
What follows below is the back and forth I had with Senator Lehner. While I'm sure she's exhausted by my bullshit, I feel as if I got to make some decent points regarding the need for, and a possible solution to the Graduation Crisis. I'm still not sure what to make of the initial comments reportedly made by Senator Lehner blaming teachers like me for the problem. I do know that she has, at best, been terribly inconsistent in recognizing that there is a problem. However, I believe that she is committed to finding a solution going forward. I also believe that lowering the point requirement to 15 is not enough, and I will advocate for Dr. Lloyd's proposed solution by contacting each member of the state school board prior to their December meeting. I'll hope you'll consider doing the same.
Thank you for the prompt reply. A comparable quote was reported by several news outlets, and I have spoken to many colleagues who heard it and were equally frustrated. I also heard you speak at the board meeting in June, sure that the situation with graduation was not a problem. Unfortunately, you were wrong. I'm sure you understand my frustration.
I had spent the day teaching American History to the standards. I taught a test remediation class the day before, and had also counseled a hard working student who suffers from anxiety, who as a junior has only amassed 8 points. We are all in a frightening situation in Ohio's high schools. I trust that the state board and legislature will recognize this as we move forward.
Thanks again for your reply and consideration.
Matthew I can absolutely assure you that ODE will have an acceptable solution before the end of the year-probably lowering points needed to 15 and gradually increasing up to the 18 points over four years as schools become more familiar with the tests and put remediation programs into place. The final details will be worked out once all the data is collected.