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‘Guarantee’ Rescinded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


Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue
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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Student Achievement Webinar Examining the Evidence: What We’re Learning From the Field About Implementing High-Dosage Tutoring Programs
Tutoring programs have become a leading strategy to address COVID-19 learning loss. What evidence-based principles can district and school leaders draw on to design, implement, measure, and improve high-quality tutoring programs? And what are districts

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 States Make It Hard to Tell How Much Schools Are Spending, Report Says
The vast majority of states aren't publishing spending data in a visually appealing or comprehensive way, according to EdTrust.
3 min read
Group of people with large pens, coins, calculator, clip board, magnifying glass and studying numbers, charts and receipts.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Accountability Did Washington D.C.'s Education Overhaul Help Black Children? This Study Says Yes
Researchers said the district's "market-based" reforms accelerated achievement versus other districts and states.
5 min read
Accountability Opinion What Next-Gen Accountability Can Learn From No Child Left Behind
As we ponder what's next for accountability and assessment, we’d benefit from checking the rearview mirror more attentively and more often.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Accountability Opinion Let’s Make Transparency the Pandemic’s Educational Legacy
Transparency can strengthen school communities, allow parents to see what’s happening, and provide students more of the support they need.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty