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Ohio Senate

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Government Oversight, Chair Education Energy and Public Utilities

Statehouse Columbus, Ohio 43215 (614) 466-4538 SDO6@senate state oh us

Jon Husted State Senator
6th District

July 29, 2009

Governor Ted Strickland Governor’s Office Riffe Center, 30th Floor 77 South High Street Columbus, OH 43215 Senate President Bill Harris 1 Capitol Square Ohio Senate #201, 2’”~ Floor Columbus, OH 43215 Speaker Armond Budish Rife Center, 14th Floor 77 South High Street Columbus, OH 43215 Dear Governor Strickland, President Harris and Speaker Budish: Now that the state budget is complete and Ohio confronts the challenges and opportunities of ensuring all Ohio children are receiving a quality education, I want to take a moment to address the newly released federal guidelines for the Race to the Top Grants. I read with great interest Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s op-ed article that appeared in The Washington Post on July 24, 2009. According to Secretary Duncan, the grants are to encourage and reward states that are creating innovation and reform in four specific areas: implementing common standards and assessments; recruiting, developing, retaining, and rewarding effective teachers and principals; improving collection and the use of data; and turning around low-performing schools. Following a preliminary review of current law, I have identified two key areas where I believe Ohio will need to make some statutory changes in order to be competitive for a portion of the $4.35 billion in Race to the Top Grants. First, Secretary Duncan expressly stated that “states that limit alternative routes to certification for teachers and principals, or cap the number of charter schools, will be at a

competitive disadvantage.” As you are aware, Ohio currently has a moratorium on new charter schools. In the coming days, I plan to introduce legislation to remove the moratorium while leaving in place the existing sponsor cap and other regulations to ensure that Ohio’s charter schools are held accountable and that students attending charter schools receive a high quality education. Second, Secretary Duncan pointed out that “states that explicitly prohibit linking data on achievement or student growth to principal and teacher evaluations will be ineligible for reform dollars until they change their laws.” As you may recall, in 2003 Ohio developed what is commonly known and referred to as the “value-added progress dimension.” This valuable tool has been a part of Ohio’s accountability system since 2007 and measures the academic gain for a student or group of students over a specific period of time. To put ourselves in the best possible position to compete to improve our system, I believe we should revisit language included as part of Governor Strickland’s education reform plan in House Bill 1 that required value-added to be included in all teacher and principal evaluations. With the two changes I have outlined above along with a few other technical modifications, Ohio will be in a strong position to take advantage of the Race to the Top dollars. I stand ready and willing to work with you, other members of the Legislature and the Ohio Department of Education, to ensure that Ohio is in the best position possible to be awarded these grants in order to provide our local districts with much needed financial help. I hope we can work together to take these proactive steps. Sincerely,

Jon A. Husted Senator 6Lh District