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State mandates

Dobbert-Meloy: Impending changes will pose challenges

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Whitehall City Schools Superintendent Judyth Dobbert-Meloy said some new changes coming to Ohio's schools would pose serious challenges for teachers and administrators.

She outlined the changes for school board members earlier this month -- changes her successor will have to address over the next three years.

The Ohio Department of Education has outlined the changes for superintendents throughout the state in an effort to help them and their staff comprehend the extent of them.

Dobbert-Meloy applauded most but said the implementation timeline is particularly challenging.

The first and likely most visible will be the state's adoption of new learning standards, called the Common Core. The new standards fall under math and reading and were developed by Ohio and many other states in an effort to standardize education in the United States, Dobbert-Meloy said.

According to the ODE, more than 40 percent of students planning to attend college in Ohio are not prepared. This year, Ohio ranked 11th among the 50 states in quality, making only a C+ on its own report card, according to data released by ODE.

Dobbert-Meloy said the new standards would add more depth to instruction and learning.

Teachers in Ohio already have been implementing the new standards, with the final transition to the new curriculum due by next school year.

The second major change, Dobbert-Meloy said, are new educator evaluations that will now rely not only on standards and observations but also on student performance.

According to the ODE, teachers will be evaluated on multiple components, including performance and student growth. Half of a teacher's rating will be based on teacher performance, with the other half on student growth.

"We have more questions than answers right now," Dobbert-Meloy said.

With a July 1 deadline for adopting local evaluation policy, Dobbert-Meloy said, the district has a lot of work to do. With annual evaluations required for each teacher, according to a long list of standards, time management will be a test, according to Dobbert-Meloy and school board president Walter Armes. Administrators and principals will have their work cut out for them in trying to implement the new evaluations for every teacher in every school, they said.

"It's going to be a real challenge," Armes said. "It's a new ball game."

Dobbert-Meloy called the new evaluation requirements "very rigorous."

The third major change has the Ohio Graduation Test, which has been around for less than a decade, being replaced with end-of-course exams.

Currently, students in high school must pass all five subjects of the OGT by senior year in order to graduate. The class of 2016 will be the last class required to pass the OGT to receive a diploma.

The class of 2017 and beyond will be required to earn 20 course credits based on Ohio's new learning standards as one of the graduation requirements, according to the ODE. That will equate to some 10 end-of-course exams.

Students also will be required to take a nationally standardized test of college and career readiness.

Other notable changes will be in the state's annual report card, Dobbert-Meloy said. The ODE is changing the way it is measuring student performance in an effort to demonstrate results in a new way, taking into account additional achievement factors.

The new easy-to-understand letter grade (A, B, C, D and F) will be based on student achievement, demographic gains, graduation rates, academic progress, literacy in kindergarten through third grade and college and career preparedness.

Full implementation of the new state report cards is expected to be completed by August 2016.

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