Any discussion about high school level end-of-course exams will be done in coordination with the State Board of Education’s current reexamination of Ohio’s graduation requirements.
The Graduation Workgroup got down to business on Wednesday, introducing one another, and seeing a presentation from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. From what I've seen of the presentation and corresponding research, most of the skills necessary for college and career success are NOT things that can be measured by standardized tests. This would seem to limit the importance of using said tests as a requirement for graduation. I'm guessing those in power at the ODE see things differently.
One individual who attended the meeting indicated that Superintendent DeMaria said that the tests are essentially off-limits for discussion in the Workgroup. I would be interested in having that verified by other attendees. If it is true, then DeMaria and the ODE are clearly involved in some sort of shell game regarding state assessments. After all, if the ESSA report, signed by DeMaria, says the discussion of end-of-course exams is occurring within the board's investigation, which is being undertaken by the Workgroup, but the Workgroup has been forbidden by DeMaria to discuss the tests, then nothing is being addressed with regard to the assessment system at the high school level. I would also question how adequately the Workgroup is going to be able to address the graduation problem without discussing the root of the problem.
The Superintendent wants to hear from us...again.
When Paolo DeMaria took over as Superintendent, he told Ohioans he wanted to hear from them. As reported in the Plain Dealer at the time, "I want to listen- to get a clear sense of what's happening out here," DeMaria said. "Share with us. Communicate with us, Tell us what we're doing well, what we're not doing well." He has consistently positioned himself as the benevolent bearded face of the ODE, ready to listen, prepared to take action to do what is right for Ohio's kids.
Unfortunately, he's more often proving to be inclined to fall in line with a partisan agenda that features test and punish, attacks on public schools and their teachers, and privatization, just like his predecessors. His recent inaction related to the takeover of the Lorain schools is the best evidence so far. This ESSA draft plan, and its utter lack of a plan to fix the primary issue indicated by Ohioans when they stepped up to share with Mr. DeMaria seems, unfortunately, to be another example.
It's not over, though. True to form, Superintendent DeMaria and the Ohio Department of Education have opened up a period of time to comment on the state's ESSA plan. That's right, they want to hear what we think The full plan will be released in February, and the window to weigh-in will be open until March 6th. In theory, this feedback will be used to shape the final Ohio plan to comply with ESSA.
Let's hope they prove more capable of responding to stakeholder input than they have thus far.