Helping every Ohio student succeed
Ohioans have a unique opportunity this fall to weigh in on what the state needs to do to make sure that all students succeed in school, during 10 regional meetings we are co-hosting with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). The regional meetings are one of the ways that ODE is meeting a new requirement of engaging stakeholders to create a state education plan, part of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that was passed by Congress in late 2015. It is the first major overhaul of federal education policy in years and shifts the broad federal oversight of primary and secondary education to greater, more flexible decision making at the state and local levels.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Dayton regional meeting, where nearly 175 people gathered at the Stivers School for the Arts for an evening discussing ESSA. Local educators, parents, community members and funders began the evening with an overview of the law before heading to the cafeteria for snacks and table conversations that lasted more than an hour and a half. Joining in the talks were members of the State Board of Education – Tom Gunlock, A.J. Wagner, Ron Rudduck and Tess Elshoff – as well as Senator Peggy Lehner, Representatives Niraj Antani, Jeff Rezabek and Jim Butler and former Governor Bob Taft.
The state’s new Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria, spoke for a few minutes at the beginning of the night, welcoming participants and encouraging them to “Speak your mind because I’m looking for the unvarnished truth.” Superintendent DeMaria spent the next couple of hours walking through the cafeteria, listening to table conversations.
The conversations gathered thoughts – with copious notes taken at each table and handed in at the end of the evening for compilation – on a number of topics: standards & assessments, accountability, educator effectiveness and school improvement & student supports. As you can imagine, people had many different perspectives and opinions on the topics.
We’ll be reading through all of the notes from the 10 meetings, identifying common themes as well as specific, regional issues, which we’ll present in a white paper later this fall. ODE is set to release a draft of its state plan in November, with a final plan due to the federal government sometime next year. We hope that our paper, along with several other briefs we have just released will help inform the state’s plan and help ensure that every Ohio student succeeds.
Claudia Y.W. Herrold