Five of 2013's Big Education Stories



2013 was a busy year for education in Ohio.

There was lots of talk about Toni Morrison, charter schools, and the distribution of the state's budget money.

A handful of university presidents left. The federal government briefly shut down. The GED changed.

But a handful of topics kept popping up again and again, so let's take a stroll down memory lane and look at five of the year's biggest education stories.

  1. The Common Core Standards

The Common Core is a new set of learning expectations that Ohio and 44 other states fully adopted in 2010, but these new standards and their implementation are still a major talking point.  There were panel discussions and House hearings. And there was even some suggested anti-Common Core treats to give to kids on Halloween.

2.  Teacher Evaluations

More than 30 states, including Ohio, are using a more challenging way to evaluate teachers. The state's educators must earn one of five value-added ratings that are a key part of their overall “final grades" in Ohio. The “Most Effective” label ranks as the best grade, while a “Least Effective" label rounds out the bottom. But a December 2013 bill that passed the Ohio Senate would make some changes to the process, like allowing some teachers to be evaluated less frequently and requiring that 35 percent of an evaluation to be based on academic growth.

3.  School Report Cards

The state's new report cards rolled out in August. For the 2012-2013 school year, Ohio graded both public schools and charter schools on an A-F scale. This labeling system took the place of the state's old rating scale, which would give schools labels such as "Excellent" or "Academic Emergency". But the new system could be confusing to parents, especially to those who wanted more information than a report card could give them.

4.  Election Levies 

Education issues have traditionally filled ballots across the state even during non-presidential election years, and 2013 was no exception. More than 200 election levies were on this year's ballot, and almost two-thirds of those passed. The majority of voters seemed to side with tax renewals, but voted against levies that asked for tax increases.

5. Standardized Testing

The many abbreviations of standardized tests could be mistaken for a bowl of alphabet soup. Results of the NAEP, the PISA, and the TUDA all popped up during the year. Starting in 2014-15, Ohio's students will spend more than 45 extra hours over the school year to take the PARRC. But educational experts warn that while standardized tests do help in measuring some things, the tests can't measure everything.


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