New Ohio Plan Aims to Retest Teachers in Failing Schools

Ohio is pioneering a plan to force teachers in the bottom of 10% of schools, as ranked by the Performance Index (a measure of student test performance), to retake licensing exams if their subject is included in a list of ‘core subjects'

The unusual measure is a result of a provision in Ohio's budget law. Governor John Kasich defends the plan despite pressure from teaching unions.

Re-testing teachers, Gov. John Kasich has said, will hold them more accountable and give districts and charter schools the ability to move ineffective teachers out.

"Struggling schools need to be sure teachers are competent and fully capable of teaching their assigned curriculum,"

Unions believe the measure is a waste of time as new teachers already take licensing tests before starting work in Ohio.

It's like telling a longtime college student to retake the ACT or SAT, said Michele Prater, spokeswoman for the Ohio Education Association.

There are also significant financial concerns, as it is currently unclear whether Ohio will pay for the tests of make districts fund them from existing funds. With an estimated cost of $2.1m a year to test about 6,000 teachers and a cost of around $120 per day per teacher to provide substitute teachers in the affected schools, this is a plan that unions also consider to be a waste of money.

The Governor rejects these concerns:

"Limiting this provision to poor-performing schools will minimize costs and avoid unnecessary burdens on quality schools," Kasich said.

There are also concerns that this measure is unhelpful in that it will end up specifically targeting the poorest schools and further exacerbating the budgetary pressures these schools are under. Although the final ranking list will not be available until September the preliminary rankings show that virtually all the schools on Ohio's lowest 10% list are located in poor neighborhoods. The current iteration of the plan broadly targets all core-subject teachers at a ‘failing' school for mandatory re-testing and there are concerns that this will discourage better teachers from staying at these schools or applying to them in the first place

"How is that going to make any (teacher) want to go to those schools?" asked Julie Sellers, president of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers. "We have good teachers in those schools now. They're all going to want to transfer out. That will destabilize their staff."

03 12, 2012
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