COLUMBUS - Today, all members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus sent the following letter to Mr. Paolo DeMaria, Ohio's Superintendent of Public Instruction, asking that the Department of Education (ODE) take additional time to seek public input on the state's plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The federal government offers two deadlines for submission: April 3rd or September 27th.  ODE has chosen the earlier date as its preferred target. 

  

Dear Superintendent DeMaria:

We write to you today regarding the Department of Education’s (ODE) draft plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  As you well know, ESSA was developed with the objective of giving local school districts more flexibility to educate our children and to measure their performance.  This is a laudable objective, and one that we support. 

First, we want to thank you for your efforts over the past several months to gather feedback on ways to shape Ohio’s plan.  We recognize the work that was put into the surveys, webinars, and regional meetings, in which we have participated.  You clearly have a strong desire to get this right, and you and your Department have been very proactive in your approach. 

We are concerned, however, that Ohio is missing opportunities to further improve and refine our plan by attempting to meet the earliest federal deadline. While we don’t doubt that significant stakeholder feedback was gathered in the beginning of this process, we strongly believe that the timeline for public comment once the draft plan was released (just five weeks) was far too condensed.

Since the plan was made public, we have heard from interested parties across the education spectrum who have expressed significant and specific concerns about portions of the draft.  These concerns include, but are not limited to: number of tests and duration of testing; our A-F report card system and indicators within that system; accountability sub-group size; value-added growth measures (both in general and as they apply to teacher evaluations); and school improvement. 

These interested parties – many of whom are the very educators who will implement this plan – have made clear that there is more work to be done. We fear that the April submission deadline does not provide for adequate time to get us where we need to be.   

To that end, we request that you continue stakeholder engagement throughout the spring and summer, and submit the plan to the federal government by the second deadline in September.  Our constituents, particularly those who operate in our public schools every day, have identified several outstanding issues that have yet to be addressed.  It is our duty as a legislature to listen to them, and we hope that you will do the same.

Thank you for your consideration, and for your continued service to the students, educators, and communities of the State of Ohio. 

 

The full letter can be viewed in PDF format here.

 
 
 
  
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