What happened during the lame duck session?

By now, you know the legislative session has concluded. Sub. SB 3, which became a Christmas tree bill, contained a plethora of miscellaneous education provisions. The bill has been signed and will become effective mid-March. I thought you might like a short summary of the provisions that will apply to most of our clients. If you have specific questions about what is applicable to career technical education or educational service center districts, please let us know. I will follow up next week with a look at other recently passed bills.

 Time Spent on State Assessments

After July 1, 2017, boards of education must ensure that no student is required to:

  1. Spend more than 2 percent of the school year taking state assessments in 3301.0710(A) and 3301.0712(B)(2) or any district-wide assessment in subject area or grade level.
  2. Spend more than 1 percent of the school year taking practice or diagnostic assessments to prepare for assessments described above.

This limitation does not apply to students with disabilities or to students who don’t obtain a passing score on English language arts achievement assessments, substitute exams, or additional assessments to identify a student as gifted.

Boards may exceed these limits upon a resolution of the board after “at least one” public hearing on the proposed resolution.

The bill removed a requirement that districts report to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) the amount of extracurricular services offered to students.

Education Deregulation Provisions

 Districts that qualify are exempt from:

  1. Teacher qualification requirements under the 3rd-grade reading guarantee of 3313.608. Teachers still must have a valid Ohio license in the subject area and grade level “determined appropriate by the board of education.”
  2. The mentoring component of the Ohio teacher residency program, as long as there is a local approach to train and support new teachers.
  3. Any statute, ODE rule, or standard on minimum or maximum class size.
  4. Any Revised Code or ODE standard requiring teachers to be licensed specifically in the grade level they are teaching unless required by federal law. This does not apply to special education teachers. Teachers still must have a valid Ohio license in the subject area and “at least some grade level determined appropriate by the district board.”

Notwithstanding 3319.36 and 3319.30, a superintendent may employ a person not licensed but otherwise qualified based on experience to teach in the district, provided that the board of education approves employment and provides mentoring and development opportunities as determined necessary. These employees must have criminal background checks and register with ODE during employment. ODE will enroll these employees in the retained fingerprint database. These employees are members of the State Teachers Retirement System. If arrested, ODE will notify the district, and the district may not employ anyone with an offense that would bar employment with the school as listed in R.C. 3319.31. Noncompliance with this section of the law will not disqualify this district from R.C. Chapter 3317 funds.

To qualify for these exemptions, districts must meet all the following benchmarks on the most recent report card:

  1. At least 85 percent of total possible points for performance index score
  2. An A on performance indicators on the state report card as defined in R.C. 3302.03
  3. A four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate of 93 percent and a five-year adjusted cohort graduation rate of 95 percent

Districts that meet the qualifications on the most recent report card get these exemptions for three years, beginning with the year the qualifying report card is issued.

Competitive bidding: Sub. SB 3 contains a provision that raises the competitive bidding threshold from $25,000 to $50,000. Check your policy to see if it mentions the specific amount, and if so, revise the policy. Remember that this change will not take effect until the legislation effective date in mid-March, so continue to use the $25,000 threshold until the bill becomes law.

Blizzard bags: Districts adopt a plan for the use of blizzard bags, and the board-adopted plan no longer has to be approved by ODE. Otherwise the requirements are the same.

Nonpublic extracurricular activities: The superintendent may allow any student enrolled in nonpublic school to participate in district extracurricular activities if they are not offered at the nonpublic school and either of the following apply:

  1. The extracurricular activity is not interscholastic athletics or interscholastic contests or competition in music, drama, or forensics, or
  2. The activity is in an interscholastic athletic or contest or competition in music, drama, or forensics.

That is not a typo (see options above). The law says that for the second option to apply, students must seek to participate at either the district in which the student’s nonpublic school is located or the district in which the student is entitled to attend school (understanding that the district in which the student’s nonpublic school is located may not be the same as the district in which the child is entitled to attend school). As long as the chosen district offers the activity, if the student seeks to participate at the public school in which the student’s nonpublic school is located, both of the following must apply:

  1. The superintendent of the school in which child is entitled to attend shall certify that the student has not participated in any other extracurricular activities that school year, defined as interscholastic athletic events or interscholastic competition in music, drama, or forensics. If the student has participated that school year, the student is ineligible to participate in the district in which the nonpublic school is located.
  2. Superintendents of both schools shall mutually agree in writing to allow the student to participate in the public school in which the student’s nonpublic school is located.

Athletic participation for College Credit Plus (CCP) and STEM students: Students cannot be denied the opportunity to participate in athletics just because the student is in CCP or has been in CCP as long as the student fulfills all other academic/nonacademic/financial requirements not related to participation. This provision also applies to CCP students who attend STEM, community schools, nonpublic schools, or home instruction.

Seal of biliteracy: A new section of the Revise Code provides for the addition of a seal of biliteracy, attached or affixed to a high school diploma. The seal demonstrates a high level of proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English “sufficient for meaningful use in college and a career.”

Public schools, STEM schools, community schools, college preparatory boarding schools or nonpublic schools may affix the seal of biliteracy to transcripts that meet requirements, but it is not required to attach the seal to the transcript.

Districts must maintain records to identify students who have completed the requirements for the seal, and if the district has a policy of attaching or affixing the seal to transcripts, the district shall make a designation on the transcript.

The state board will establish requirements and criteria for earning the state seal, including foreign language assessments and English proficiency.

The state board will deliver an appropriate mechanism for assigning the seal to districts, provide any other information the state board considers necessary for districts, and adopt rules to implement this provision.

No fee is allowed for the seal, but students may be required to pay a fee to demonstrate proficiency in a language including the cost of a standardized test to determine proficiency.

Languages available for the biliteracy seal include modern languages, Latin, American Sign Language, Native American languages, and native languages.

Teacher evaluation: Beginning with the 2017–2018 school year, a board of education may elect not to evaluate a teacher participating in the teacher residency program under 3319.223 for the year during which the teacher takes, for the first time, at least half of the performance-based assessment prescribed by ODE for resident educators.