Ohio Crafts Education Overhaul As Court Deadline Nears

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — June 06, 2001 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Ohio legislature approved a two-year, $45 billion state budget and a standards and accountability package last week that together were designed to satisfy a court mandate to overhaul the school finance system.

The bills would provide an additional $1.4 billion over two years for public schools, and call for statewide standards for all grades in core academic subjects to be developed by the end of 2002. They also would require end-of- grade tests and a new high school exit exam to replace the state proficiency tests now used to gauge student performance.

Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican, was expected to sign the measures this week.

Some lawmakers and observers praised the state’s plans for improving its schools, but critics said the legislation failed to remedy funding problems outlined in Ohio’s 11-year-old school finance case. The state supreme court ruled last May that the state’s initial efforts to change the financing system—first ruled unconstitutional in 1997—failed to pass muster. (“Ohio Lawmakers Differ on Funding Mechanism,” April 18, 2001.)

“The budget is simply a veneer that addresses the state supreme court’s concerns in a superficial way,” said William L. Phillis, the executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy in School Funding, which filed the original lawsuit, DeRolph v. State of Ohio, in 1991.

The budget, Mr. Phillis contends, does not provide enough money for schools with high proportions of poor students, for special education, for programs for gifted students, or for vocational education. Moreover, he said, it fails to significantly alter the state funding formula and reduce districts’ reliance on local property taxes, and it does not provide money for an assessment of school facility needs, as required by the court.

Both sides in the case are expected to present arguments to the court later this month.

‘Guarantee’ Rescinded

The Ohio Supreme Court, in its May 2000 ruling, also called on the state to set rigorous standards in core subjects and craft a plan for holding schools accountable for student achievement.

Under the legislation, academic standards would be developed by the end of 2002, and new assessments aligned to those standards would be phased in beginning in the 2003-04 school year.

The plan would abandon the state’s controversial 4th grade reading-guarantee program, which was set for implementation next spring. It would have prevented students who failed the state reading test from advancing to the 5th grade. More than 40 percent of the state’s 4th graders failed to pass the test this year, according to exam results released last week. The new legislation would push the test back to 3rd grade and require districts to offer failing students remedial instruction instead of holding them back.

“Ohio is textbook case of a state that went astray on the road to a standards-based system of education,” said Tom Mooney, the president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. “This [legislation] corrects those errors by first developing and validating the standards with a great deal of teacher involvement, and, assuming we get that right, creating new achievement tests aligned to standards.”

But some lawmakers say the testing plan missed the root problems facing schools.

Said Rep. Edward S. Jerse, a Democrat, who opposed the portion of the plan dealing with standards and accountability: “It assumes the problem is bad teachers and bad schools, when it may be that the bigger problems are declining parent support, more single-parent households, and more poverty.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the June 06, 2001 edition of Education Week as Ohio Crafts Education Overhaul As Court Deadline Nears


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Personalized Learning Webinar
No Time to Waste: Individualized Instruction Will Drive Change
Targeted support and intervention can boost student achievement. Join us to explore tutoring’s role in accelerating the turnaround. 
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools
Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Meaningful
Join us for this event with educators and experts on the damage the pandemic did to academic and social and emotional well-being.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Privacy & Security Webinar
K-12 Cybersecurity in the Real World: Lessons Learned & How to Protect Your School
Gain an expert understanding of how school districts can improve their cyber resilience and get ahead of cybersecurity challenges and threats.
Content provided by Microsoft

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Accountability School Accountability Is Restarting After a Two-Year Pause. Here's What That Means
For a moment, the COVID-19 pandemic succeeded in doing what periodic protests about school accountability couldn't: Halting it.
10 min read
Illustration of a gauge.
Accountability Opinion Let's Take a Holistic Approach to Judging Schools
Parents wouldn't judge their kids based on a single factor. So, says Ron Berger of EL Education, why must schools use a lone test score?
8 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Accountability Opinion Are K-12 State Tests Like a Visit to the Pediatrician?
Even if the doctor’s trip isn’t pleasant, at least parents get something out of it they believe is worthwhile.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Accountability Opinion What Does the Future Hold for School Accountability?
Testing and accountability advocates have an opportunity to think anew about how to make the case for testing.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty