The Ohio House of Representatives, after rushing the legislation through the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee late last night, passed House Bill 154 today. The bill, introduced ostensibly to address issues stemming from the state’s system of school district turnarounds via Academic Distress Commissions (ADCs), weakens the intervention to the point of making it meaningless.

“The state has an obligation to taxpayers and, most importantly, families to step in when students aren’t being served well,” said Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “While Academic Distress Commissions can and should be improved, HB 154 creates a framework that represents an outright abdication of the state’s duty to intervene on behalf of Ohio’s most vulnerable students.”

The Fordham Institute has conducted a detailed analysis of HB 154 and found merit in a few of its provisions allowing for earlier intervention in schools, focus on school rather than district improvement, and engagement of a broad group of stakeholders in creating a reform plan. However, in its haste to act quickly, the Primary and Secondary Education Committee failed to address some key weaknesses. The bill:

  • Doesn’t provide additional intervention for schools that fail to improve after four years of local control.
  • Fails to establish clear, objective exit criteria for schools operating under an improvement plan.
  • Ignores student achievement and growth as benchmarks for districts to include in their improvement plans.

“Rather than providing important fixes for ADC implementation issues, HB 154 dismantles any sort of accountability,” Aldis added. “If this legislation becomes law, students who attend persistently low-performing schools will be hurt.”

Policy Priority:
Ohio Education Gadfly