Ohio House Proposes Many Changes to Evaluation Procedures under Substitute S.B. 229

The Ohio House Education Committee has unveiled sweeping changes to Substitute Senate Bill 229 with regard to teacher and principal evaluations. The original version of SB 229, which passed the Senate unanimously on December 4th, 2013, modified frequency and composition of teacher evaluations and reduced some of the burden on school administrators. The new version of the Bill proposed by the House Education Committee, however, would modify both the OTES and OPES evaluation systems in ways that would undoubtedly place additional strain on the relatively untested evaluation systems. The proposed changes include the following:

  • Bumps student growth measures back up to 50% from the 35% proposed by the Senate, unless a district elects to use an alternative “student survey” framework (available for grades 4-12), in which case the final rating would be comprised of 40% SGM, 40% teacher performance rating, and 20% student survey results;
  • Requires that an evaluator use an average score if a teacher receives different scores on the observations and review components of the evaluations;
  • Increases SGM from three to five total possible ratings: “Most Effective”, “Above Average”, “Average”, “Below Average”, and “Least Effective”;
  • Adds new performance level rating of “Effective” that will exist in the realm between “Skilled” and “Developing”;
  • Requires that at least one formal observation of a teacher be unannounced;
  • Beginning in 2015, allows districts to evaluate “Accomplished” and “Skilled” teachers every other year, but only if the teacher’s SGM score is rated “Average” or higher (teachers must still receive one observation and a conference in the “off” year);
  • District can elect not to evaluate 1) a teacher who is on leave for 70% or more of the year, and 2)a teacher who submitted notice of retirement before Dec. 1st;
  • Teachers rated “Effective” “Developing” or “Ineffective” must be placed on an improvement plan;
  • In 2015 and beyond, districts cannot assign students to a teacher who has been rated ineffective for two or more years (but does not specify what a district should do with these teachers!);
  • A district is also prohibited from assigning a student teacher to a teacher who is “Developing” or “Ineffective” during the previous year;
  • If a teacher with at least ten years of experience receives a designation of either “Least Effective” or “Below Average” on his/her SGM rating, that teacher may be rated “Developing” only once;
  • Mandates that results of an evaluation must follow the teacher even if he/she is transferred to a new building or takes employment elsewhere;
  • Requires ODE to develop a standardized framework for assessing SGM for all non-value added grade levels and subjects by 2016;
  • By 2016, districts must administer assessments to students in each of grades K-12 for English Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. Assessments must be selected by ODE and based on value-added progress dimension or vendor-developed student growth measures (may include assessments already required by law);
  • Beginning next July, evaluators must verify completion of at least one evaluation training course outlined in the bill;
  • After July 1, 2015, the State Board must ensure individuals seeking licensure as superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal, vocational director, administrative specialist, or supervisor have completed a teacher evaluator training;
  • The revised bill mandates that the State Board of Education must develop a standards based system for principals and assistant principals, which districts must conform to;
  • Third grade reading guarantee assessments must either be value-added or vendor-approved assessments;
  • ODE must provide detailed report of school performance on evaluations to general assembly, and must accept comments for improvement from districts that it passes on to general assembly;
  • Exempts from collective bargaining all amendments made by the bill to 3319.111, 3319.112, 3319.113, 3319.114, 3319.115, and 3319.117;
  • Permits a district to enter into a MOU with union that stipulates value-added progress demission rating issued for 2014-2015 will not be used when making decisions regarding dismissal, retention, tenure or compensation.

The substitute bill currently awaits approval in the House Education Committee before it will be sent to the full House for a vote. The bill will also need to be voted on again by the Senate before it proceeds to the governor for final signature. We will keep you posted on the progress of the bill, and also encourage clients to voice opposition to the drastic changes listed in the bill. To review the Legislative Service Commission’s comparison synopsis, click here.

FMLA “Health Care Provider” Certifications Rarely Acceptable From Chiropractors

We’ve recently seen an increase in the number of FMLA “Health Care Provider” certifications that are completed by chiropractors.  As many of you know, the FMLA grants eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for several reasons, including a serious health condition.  An employer is permitted to request a certification from an employee’s health care provider to verify that the employee does indeed have a serious health condition  Many school districts and other employers have been accepting these certifications from chiropractors without realizing that it is very rare that such a certification must be accepted.

Although many people seek treatment from chiropractors for very serious injuries and ailments, the Department of Labor has concluded that a chiropractor is not to be considered a health care provider unless the treatment provided consists of “manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation.”  This diagnosis must also be demonstrated by an X-ray to exist.

This means that school districts and other employers are not required to accept FMLA certifications from chiropractors unless an employee has seen the chiropractor for this one specific reason.  We’ve found that many clients mistakenly accept certifications from chiropractors for many other ailments.  So, the next time you see a FMLA Health Care Provider certification from a chiropractor you will likely be able to refuse to accept it unless it is for the limited treatment and diagnosis of manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation.  The certification must also indicate that such a diagnosis was confirmed to exist by an X-ray.

For more information on this topic and a list of other health care providers that can complete FMLA Health Care Provider certifications, please see the U.S. Department of Labor’s website at: