95 percent of ancient Ohio was forested. But centuries ago there were also small regions of prairie. Tall grasses and wildflowers were part of the prairie ecology and so were bison. Researchers near Columbus are trying to reestablish a prairie / bison ecosystem.
Educators Already Want Changes To Teachers Evaluations
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A new system is being used to determine the value of Ohioâ€™s teachers, and education officials are already asking lawmakers to make some tweaks to the process.
Supporters believe more teachers would benefit under the proposed changes.
Schools around the state are implementing the new Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, also known as OTES. The process grades teachers through administrator observations and student growth.
Since OTES is new, policymakers and education officials are keeping a close eye on its effectiveness to see if thereâ€™s anything to improve upon.
epublican Senator Randy Gardner, of Bowling Green, says thatâ€™s where Senate Bill 229 comes in. He says his legislation makes some changes to OTES that reward good teachers and give school districts more local control.
A teacher can receive one of four grades, or designations, through OTES; Accomplished is the highest followed by Skilled, Developing and Ineffective.
As of now, if a teacher is designated as Accomplished this year, then he or she would be observed every other year. The rest of the designations require an observation every year.
Under Gardnerâ€™s proposal, an Accomplished teacher would be observed every three years and a Skilled teacher would be observed every other year. This loosens the reins a little on teachers who prove their value.
â€œWe believe this additional flexibility still says evaluations are important but it allows additional flexibility and saves some money on the administrative side that can be put directly back into the classroom to help children learn,” Gardner says.
The change does not apply to educators in their first four years of teaching and the senator adds that test scores will still keep everyone in check.
â€œThis doesnâ€™t mean that this is the only time that teachers will be evaluated during those times because we have standardized testingâ€”we have new testing formatsâ€”that data will be available every year,” Gardner says.
“But this would be the formal, more time-intensive, principal administrative evaluation.â€
The bill also makes changes to the student growth factor. This is measured by how much progress a student makes from one year to the other. As of now, student growth accounts for 50 percent of a teacherâ€™s evaluation.
Educators think thatâ€™s too high, according to Gardner, who wants that number to drop to 35 percent. This change means school districts can choose what to do with the remaining 15%, which could go back into student growth if board members deem that necessary.
â€œItâ€™s not a dramatic changeâ€”but itâ€™s a meaningful change that school districts believe provides a better option for them to institute better local measures.â€
The Ohio Education Association, the stateâ€™s largest teachers union, supports the bill and says the changes represent progress to the system.