Senate Passes HB 487 After Adding Senate-passed SB 229 Teacher Evaluation Provisions

This week, the Ohio Senate passed multiple Mid-Biennium Review (MBR) bills, including HB 487, the K-12 Education MBR. It is expected that there will be a conference committee on HB 487 to address the differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill.
During the HB 487 Senate Education Committee debate, the OEA strongly supported two critical amendments made to the bill that include: 1) the Senate-passed version of SB 229 which lowers the student growth measure percentage on teacher evaluations to 35% from 50%, and 2) a one-year suspension of high-stakes decisions based on standardized testing (this provision builds towards the goal of a three-year suspension set by OEA delegates at the 2014 Spring Representative Assembly).
Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), chief sponsor of the bi-partisan, Senate-passed SB 229 language included in HB 487, said that these provisions are the result of what the Senate has learned by listening to educators. He called for Senate members to be “strong” on the SB 229 teacher evaluation language during the HB 487 conference committee scheduled for next week. “The Ohio Senate is leading toward better education policies in Ohio,” he said.
For more detailed information on these two provisions in HB487, see below:
Teacher Evaluations
  • Adopts the Senate-passed version of SB 229 requiring that student academic growth account for 35% of each teacher’s performance evaluation, rather than the 50% required by current law. Up to 15% of each evaluation may include other measures, such as formal observations and reviews, student surveys, peer review evaluations, or any other factors. 
  • Further, a school district would be permitted to evaluate any teacher who received a rating of “accomplished” on the teacher’s most recent evaluation once every three years and any teacher who received a rating of “skilled” on the teacher’s most recent evaluation once every two years.
  • Allows a school board to elect not to evaluate a teacher who either: (1) was on leave from the school district for 50% or more of the school year, or (2) has submitted notice of retirement that has been accepted by the board not later than December 1 of the school year in which the evaluation is otherwise scheduled.
One-year Suspension of High-Stakes Decisions Based on Standardized Tests
  • Prohibits the report card ratings issued for the 2014-2015 school year from being considered in determining whether a school district or school is subject to sanctions or penalties, including the following:
    • Provisions defining “challenged school districts” in which new start-up charter schools may be located.
    • Provisions prescribing a new building where students are eligible for the Ed Choice voucher program.
    • Provisions for academic distress commissions.
    • Any restructuring provisions required under state law.
  • Permits a school district, community school, or STEM school to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with its teachers’ union that stipulates that the value-added rating issued for the 2014-2015 school year will not be used when making decisions regarding teacher dismissal, retention, tenure, or compensation.

Update from OEA on SB229

March 28, 2014

Senate Bill 229 – Teacher Evaluation Bill Intended to Provide More Local Flexibility is Turned Upside Down by House Education Committee
The House Education Committee made drastic changes to Senate Bill 229 this week when it unveiled a new version of the bill.  It turned the bill on its head and left  it almost unrecognizable from the bill that was approved unanimously by the Ohio Senate.  The changes to what had been a bi-partisan bill in the Senate were accepted by the House committee on a party-line vote, with all Democrats voting “No.”  In comments to the committee, ranking Democrat and former teacher Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) said the bill had been “hijacked.”  OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro urged the Committee to support the Senate- passed version of SB 229.  To read the testimony, click here .

The chief sponsor of SB 229, Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), was not made aware of the changes before they were released on Wednesday, March 26.  Stripped from the Senate version of the bill was a key provision that provided local flexibility to adjust the student growth measure portion of teacher evaluations to 35% from 50%.  Further, the provision that would provide local flexibility to adjust the frequency of full annual evaluations for highly-rated teachers was diluted. More than 30 new provisions were added to the bill, including changes to various aspects of the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES).
Instead of supporting teachers and administrators by providing local flexibility to key areas of OTES, the new House version adds even more burdens, complexities and bad policy on Ohio’s educators.  In addition, numerous exemptions to collective bargaining were added to the bill in a blatant attempt to silence the voice of educators.

Here’s a summary of OEA’s position on the new House version of SB 229:

  • The OEA strongly opposes the House Substitute Bill and the hostile takeover of the effort to provide much-needed local flexibility to teacher evaluations.
  • The litany of changes made to SB 229 by the House Education Committee has turned the bill on its head.  Instead of supporting teachers and administrators by providing local flexibility to key areas of OTES, the House version adds even more burdens, complexities and bad policy on Ohio’s educators.
  • The OEA will continue to work with the sponsors and supporters of the Senate-passed bill to implement legislation that provides the local flexibility needed to make Ohio’s teacher evaluation system more effective, fair and efficient.

For an analysis of SB 229 (House Substitute Bill), please click here .

To send a letter to your state Representative, please click here.