Last fall, Fordham beganfor policymakers to consider in the budget cycle.
Now that Governor DeWine’s first budget season has (finally) come to a close, it’s worth taking a second look at these recommendations. Several of them—such asand —were incorporated into the budget. But there are others that didn’t make the cut. Here are four policies worthy of consideration when lawmakers return from summer break.
1. Provide tax benefits to employers that train apprentices
Career and technical education (CTE) is a hot topic in Ohio. The$25 million to increase the number of students who earn industry-recognized credentials. Ohio is also in the midst of drafting a state plan for , the recently reauthorized federal law that governs how states implement and expand access to CTE programs. Ohio is already that promises the creation of a pilot program aimed at coordinating work-based learning (WBL) opportunities for students. WBL can , but one of the most promising is an apprenticeship, which allows students to gain paid on-the-job training and allows businesses to build their talent pipelines.
In Ohio, students ages sixteen and up can participate in one of the state’s. There are no state data on how many high schoolers participate in this form of WBL, but it’s unlikely to be many. That could be because employers don’t see it as a cost-effective recruitment and training strategy. To fix that, lawmakers could based on the number of students who complete a state-registered apprenticeship at their worksite.
2. Create a data system that links K–12, higher education, and workforce outcomes
Between theand initiatives like , , and , Ohio is taking big steps forward in supporting more seamless transitions from high school into college and career. But without high quality data, it’s impossible to measure results and track them over time. That’s why the K–12 and higher education data with workforce outcomes such as wages, career fields, and unemployment records. An integrated information system—which fully protects individual student level privacy—would allow the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Higher Education to fulfill federal requirements within Perkins V and ESSA, and more importantly would provide the public, advocates, and researchers with quality data about how various college and career readiness initiatives are progressing.
3. Create a curriculum-review committee
Ohio has had its fair share of debates over standards, but very few conversations have paid attention to curriculum—a key lever for successfully implementing high standards. That’s a shame, since research shows that curriculum reform can have a big impact. Louisiana, for example, has seen some serious growth on, the , and since . I’ve written before about . A good place to start would be for ODE to comprising Ohio educators to evaluate the quality of textbooks and curricular materials. Their recommendations would help districts select the best materials, and ODE could incentivize good choices by offering them at a discount. Critically, final decisions about what curricular materials to adopt would remain a local prerogative.
4. Provide clear information to parents about college readiness
Class grades, GPAs, and feedback from teachers are important, but state tests are unique because they provide parents with an objective “external audit” of student learning. Many families use state test results to double-check that their students are on track for college. Unfortunately, the proficiency standards Ohio uses for state exams aren’t aligned with college-ready benchmarks. Thousands of students pass through the K–12 system believing they’re on a pathway to college thanks to their proficient scores on state exams, only to take entrance exams like the ACT or SAT and discover they aren’t likely to qualify for admission to the school of their dreams or will have to take expensive, non-credit-bearing remedial courses if they get on campus.
My colleague Aaron Churchill hasfor this data mismatch. They include changing proficiency cut scores to more closely align with college-ready benchmarks, or overhauling the classification system entirely. Although neither of these options would impact graduation rates—the graduation standard would still be set lower than college-ready—changes to cut scores are almost always controversial. A more politically tenable option might be to of statewide exam results that parents receive. Starting in middle school, these reports could include data that predict what a student’s ACT or SAT score would be, based on state exam results. This calculation can already be done, but it isn’t currently shared with parents. The information would give parents and guardians a more accurate picture of their students’ growth and would ensure that they don’t find out too late that their children are off-track.
There’s stillafter this busy budget season, and about , school funding, and report cards are sure to dominate the fall legislative session. But pursuing the four policies outlined above would go a long way toward proving that lawmakers are ready and willing to keep their focus on doing what’s best for kids year-round. Here’s hoping that’s exactly what they do!