Fiscal Note & Local Impact Statement
124 th General Assembly of Ohio
· Offsetting fiscal effects.
· Approximately $17.3 million cost over the biennium related to new standards and curricula.
· Approximately $17.8 million increase in cost for development and scoring of tests and assessments over the 2001-2003 biennium as compared to the 1999-2001 biennium.
· Approximately $16.7 million to $17.5 million decrease in cost each fiscal year from elimination of the 12th grade proficiency test scholarship.
· Approximately $1 million to fund the Governor’s Commission of Successful Teachers.
· Indeterminate future costs.
· Possible offsetting fiscal effects on school districts.
· Potential costs and savings are mostly indeterminate as they are dependent on variables that are currently unknown.
The bill requires the State Board of Education to adopt statewide academic standards for each of grades kindergarten through twelfth in reading, writing, and math by December 31, 2001, and in science and social studies by December 31, 2002. After which the Board is required to adopt standards for each of grades third through twelfth in computer literacy and for each of grades kindergarten through twelfth in fine arts and foreign languages. The Board is also required to adopt model curricula aligned with these standards. The Department of Education estimates that it will incur a staffing cost of $2.2 million in fiscal year 2002 and $3 million in fiscal year 2003 related to this requirement. The actual development and implementation of the standards is estimated to cost $2.3 million in each fiscal year. The development of the model curricula is estimated to cost $2.5 million in each fiscal year. Finally, communication of the standards and curricula is estimated to cost $1.5 million in fiscal year 2002 and $1 million in fiscal year 2003. This results in a total approximate cost of $8.5 million in fiscal year 2002 and $8.8 million in fiscal year 2003. The development of these standards and curricula will continue into future biennia with similar costs.
In addition, the bill requires the State Board of Education to adopt statewide diagnostic assessments for each of grades kindergarten through second in reading, writing, and math and for each of grades third through eighth in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies by the end of fiscal year 2006. The bill also phases in the development of 15 achievement tests for third, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, and tenth grades which replace the current 20 proficiency tests. The twelfth grade proficiency tests are eliminated. Scoring of the diagnostic assessments will be done by the local school districts. The State will be responsible for the scoring of the achievement and proficiency tests, as it is currently responsible for the scoring of the proficiency tests. The bill changes the current scoring for the achievement tests as well as the 4th grade proficiency test to provide four ranges of scores: advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic. Currently the proficiency test scores are either proficient or not proficient. The bill also requires the Department of Education give preference to Ohio contractors when choosing a company to score the tests. The Department of Education estimates that the development of these assessments and the scoring of the achievement and proficiency tests will cost approximately $23.7 million in fiscal year 2002 and $26.9 million in fiscal year 2003. This represents an increase of approximately $17.8 million for the biennium over the costs associated with proficiency testing in fiscal years 2000 and 2001. There is a possibility that the Department of Education will receive federal money for testing so that the State will not have to completely fund these costs. As with the development of standards and curricula the costs related to testing will continue into future biennia.
A significant cost savings is realized by the elimination of the twelfth grade proficiency test and the $500 accompanying scholarship. Currently, the Department of Education is funding a $500 scholarship for any Ohio graduating senior who passes all parts of the 12th grade proficiency test and enrolls in an Ohio college or university. These scholarships would have cost approximately $16.7 million to $17.5 million in each fiscal year.
Performance Indicators, Standards of Improvement and Report Cards
The bill requires the Department of Education to establish at least 17 new performance indicators, adds “excellent” as the highest category of performance and requires the State Board to establish a standard unit of improvement for individual school buildings. A spokesperson for the Department stated that these requirements present no additional cost, as the Department is constantly refining performance indicators and standards of improvement anyway. The bill also requires that performance ratings be issued annually instead of triennially, that report cards be issued for each school building as well as each school district, that data on the report card be disaggregated according to various categories, and that additional reports and data as outlined in the bill be compiled and displayed on the Department’s web site. The disaggregation of data is necessary for Ohio to be in compliance with Federal Title I programs. Currently, state law prohibits this disaggregation. The Department of Education, however, already has access to disaggregated data so does not estimate increased costs associated with this provision. Similarly the additional data compilation and reporting requirements are not estimated to create a new cost for the Department. The data is already available as part of the Department’s current redesign of the Education Management Information System, and the Department is already issuing report cards for each school building and updating performance ratings annually.
Recommendations, Studies, and Research
The bill requires the State Board to recommend an intervention plan to the General Assembly for consistently failing school districts and school buildings. This does not present an additional cost, as this is currently part of the core work of the State Board and the Department. The State Board is also required to recommend a plan for end-of-course examinations as an alternative graduation requirement to the Ohio Graduation Test and to appoint a committee to make recommendations to incorporate end-of –program assessments for career-technical education programs. The planning of these examinations will present a minimal cost. The actual development and implementation of these examinations will create a potential future cost to the state that is indeterminate at this time as it is dependent on the plan recommended by the State Board. The bill requires the Department of Education to identify research on effective use of instructional time and on certain intervention strategies and to disseminate this information through the Ohio SchoolNet Commission. Again, this is part of the current work of the Department and does not represent an additional cost.
Finally, the bill establishes the Governor’s Commission on Successful Teachers to recommend policies for the preparation, recruitment, hiring, and retention of teachers and to recommend pilot programs to address teacher shortages. The Commission is to issue a written report to the General Assembly by December 31, 2002. A Department spokesperson estimates the cost of the Commission to be approximately $1 million. These funds will come from non-GRF sources.
Tests and Assessments
Current law requires that school districts implement a competency-based education program which includes student performance objectives, curricula and instructional methods designed to ensure students attain the performance objectives, periodic assessments to measure student progress toward achieving the performance objectives, and intervention services for students in grades first through eleventh who are not making adequate progress. The State Board is required to establish model competency-based education programs that include performance objectives, model curricula, recommended assessment methods and recommended intervention strategies. Under current law school districts are not required to implement any part of the model programs.
The bill eliminates the requirement that school districts implement competency-based education programs. Partly in place of this requirement, the bill requires that all school districts that are not “excellent” and all public community schools administer the state diagnostic assessments at least once annually. School districts that are “excellent” are required to administer locally selected assessments. In addition, as previously stated, 15 achievement tests are phased in to replace the 20 proficiency tests currently administered. The bill also requires the assessment of special education students according to guidelines established by the Department. The state pays the costs of developing and scoring the achievement tests and of developing the diagnostic assessments. The school districts and community schools are responsible for administering the tests and assessments and for scoring the diagnostic assessments. There is an opportunity cost associated with administering the tests and assessments since it takes time away from instruction. However, given that school districts were already required to do some sort of assessment under the competency-based program, it is assumed that the savings from the elimination of the current assessments and tests offsets the costs of administering the new assessments and tests required by the bill.
A potential cost for some school districts related to the state diagnostic tests arises if districts need to adopt a new curriculum to match the content students are expected to learn in each year. The bill may decrease some of the flexibility the school districts have in the sequencing and timing of specific instructional content. A spokesperson from a suburban school district estimates that designing a new course of study and adopting a new textbook would cost approximately $69 per student per subject area.
The bill requires school districts to adopt a policy governing the conduct of intervention and prevention services throughout the district. School districts but not community schools are required to provide intervention services based on students’ performance on the diagnostic assessments. Presumably, this provision replaces the intervention requirements under the current competency-based education program and does not represent an additional cost. The current requirement for intervention for students failing to attain a proficient score on the 4th grade proficiency test is expanded to include students failing to attain a proficient score on a 4th, 6th, or 9th grade proficiency test as well as those failing to attain a basic score on a 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, or 8th grade achievement test. This expansion in required intervention may represent a cost to school districts. The magnitude of this cost, however, depends on variables that are unknown at this time. It will depend, for instance, on the intervention services already provided by each school district. For example, a spokesperson from a large urban district stated that intervention and remediation are a big part of the district’s business already. For such a district the provisions of the bill dealing with intervention services will not present a significant additional cost. Presumably, all school districts are already providing intervention and remediation to students who are achieving below a desired level as a part of their regular educational programs. It is reasonable to assume however, that given the perceived need for legislation mandating these services, some school districts will need to increase their level of service in order to be in compliance with the provisions of the bill. Again the costs to these school districts will depend on variables including the number of students in the district failing to attain the required scores on the achievement tests, the current level of intervention already provided by the district, the district’s salary schedule and the type of intervention the district chooses to employ.
In addition, the state provides some funds for intervention through student intervention services funds, Disadvantage Pupil Impact Aid, and to the extent intervention is part of a basic education, through base cost funding. The most recent version of Am. Sub. H.B. 94 proposes to appropriate approximately $39.2 million more for the 2001-2003 biennium for intervention services than was appropriated in Am. Sub. H.B. 282 of the 123rd General Assembly for the 1999-2001 biennium, $61 million less for DPIA, and $1.45 billion more for base cost funding. The federal government also provides funds for intervention through Title I funds. Federal Title I funds for Ohio are projected to increase by $1.8 million in federal fiscal year 2002 as compared with federal fiscal year 2001.
The bill permits school districts to follow their own plan for intervention except in the case of students failing to attain a proficient score on the fourth grade reading proficiency test or a basic score on the third grade reading achievement test. For these students the bill requires that intervention include instruction in intensive, systematic phonetics. This provision will present a cost to schools not currently using phonetics in their intervention program.
Current law requires a student who fails to attain a proficient score on the 4th grade proficiency test to be retained in the fourth grade or to be promoted to the fifth grade if the student’s principal and reading teacher agree the student is prepared for the fifth grade. The bill changes this requirement so that a student who fails to attain a basic score on the 3rd grade achievement test must be retained in the current grade or promoted if the student’s principal and reading teacher agree the student is prepared for the next grade or be promoted with intensive intervention. This provision of the bill should lead to less retentions and therefore a cost saving for school districts. The basic score has not yet been defined but since its purpose is to identify students who may be in need of retention it should be a lower standard than the current proficient score, which was designed to identify students who need intervention, but not necessarily retention. Fewer students, therefore, should be affected by this provision. A second reason for less retentions is that a third option is added allowing a student to be promoted with intensive intervention. The potential cost savings of this provision are indeterminate at this time.
Continuous Improvement Plans
The bill requires school districts that are not excellent or effective to develop district-wide continuous improvement plans and to develop continuous improvement plans for school buildings within the district that are not excellent or effective. This provision is similar to current law and should not introduce significant additional costs. The bill does change current law significantly by requiring that school districts in academic emergency adopt the state model curriculum. The cost of this provision will depend on the specifics of the new state model curriculum that will be developed pursuant to this bill. A school district spokesperson stated that a curriculum can be general, which would not entail major changes in the district’s instruction, or it may be very detailed, which would entail more changes for the district. The major potential cost of adopting a new curriculum is the purchase of new textbooks and materials, other minor costs include professional development to orient and train teachers to use the new curriculum, as well as overhaul of the testing program. A spokesperson for a large urban district estimates the cost of this provision at approximately $125 per student per subject area. It should be noted, however, that the extent that this cost is new would depend on the coincidence between the adoption of the new curricula and the district’s current textbook adoption cycle. The actual cost to the district would also depend on the degree of difference existing between its current curriculum and the state model curriculum.
The bill also outlines options from which a school district must choose if it is in academic emergency and has a building in academic emergency that after two years under a continuous improvement plan fails to attain the percentage of performance indicators defined by the State Board as necessary to make progress toward becoming an excellent building. If the building still fails to make progress in the next two years the district must choose another option from the list. This provision could cause a significant increase in costs for a school district, as it requires specific actions the school district may not have otherwise chosen. The cost, however, is indeterminate. It depends on the number of buildings that do not attain the required percentage of performance indicators, and the option these buildings choose as compared to the action the district would have taken without the provision. These variables are not predictable given that the standards for improvement have not yet been defined.
Standards and Model Curricula
After December 31, 2002, the State Board is required to adopt standards for each of grades third through twelfth in computer literacy and for each of grades kindergarten through twelfth in fine arts and foreign languages. The Board is also required to adopt model curricula aligned with these standards. Depending on the standards, school districts might incur costs to realign their curricula in those areas in the future. The magnitude of the cost, however, is indeterminate at this time as it depends on variables that are currently unknown.