The A, B, C’s of My Promises Made. Promises Kept.

A.  When elected to the SBOE, I promised to ADVOCATE for our public schools, demanding adequate and equitable resources to provide high-quality learning environments for each child in every school.

I collaborated with the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education to include a significant Arts presence as part of a well-rounded education in the Ohio Every Student Succeeds Act Plan (ESSA) that includes other federal Title funding for our most vulnerable students.

In the 2017 Biennial Budget, I supported increased resources promoting community health care partnerships, school safety efforts, technology infrastructure, support for Ohio’s Career Connections initiative, school psychologist training, early childhood and literacy education, and school improvement resources.

In June 2017, I voted to accept the hearing officer’s decision that ECOT owed ODE an estimated $60M in overpayments and another estimated $20M in 2018, as part of ECOT’s annual reviews.

B.  I continue to BELIEVE access to a high-quality education is the right of all students and a sacred trust the public must provide, no matter their socio-economic status.

Acting in this belief, I helped develop the EachChild-OurFuture Five-Year Strategic Plan that has at its heart these precepts:

  • Equity for all students, meaningful community partnerships, and quality schools that model a supportive, continuous improvement culture
  • Four equal learning domains: foundational skills and knowledge, well-rounded content, leadership and reasoning skills, and social-emotional skills
  • If Ohio is to attract and retain high-quality educators, collaborative professional learning and leadership environments must be in place that challenge individuals to explore ideas, adopt best practices, and have time to meaningfully engage with students and colleagues

C.  I promised to COLLABORATE with colleagues, constituents, and the legislature to address complex problems.

Collaborative Results:

  • Class of 2018 Graduation Options that were included in the 2017 Biennial Budget and in a recent SBOE Resolution to the legislature to extend these options through 2020
  • Reductions in state-mandated testing
  • EachChild-OurFuture Strategic Plan development that involved over 1400 stakeholders
  • May 2018 SBOE Resolution in opposition to HB512 which would effectively remove the public’s voice in Ohio’s Education System

State and Local Collaborations:

  • ODE/SBOE Graduation and Report Card Review Workgroups
  • Career technology education and Community Learning Center expansion
  • Early Childhood Education and Literacy
  • Homeless and Foster children






2018 Makeover for Pat Bruns’

Re-Election Campaign!

In the meantime….Here is what I have been doing on behalf of Ohio’s students

as your elected member of the State Board of Education!



In reviewing my work in 2017 and the over 8000 miles logged meeting with my constituents, I am honored to be able to continue to serve as your District 4 State Board member. With the end of the No Child Left Behind era of repressive testing and regulations, we have an opportunity with ESSA to reinvent ODE as a service-based partner with our school districts. We have laid the groundwork for such reform this past year. I remain committed to policies that will further strengthen our public schools and give them the resources they need, make charter schools accountable for public tax dollars, reduce/eliminate state-mandated testing, expand career-tech, problem-based learning and arts opportunities for all students. I will continue to encourage innovative and challenging educational environments that place high-quality teaching and learning at their center.

Respectfully submitted,

January, 2018


A New Year and a New Day at the Ohio State Board of Education!

We welcomed ten new board members, some elected and some appointed, but all with an interest to speak as one voice for all of Ohio students. Superintendent Paolo DeMaria continues reorganizing the department, getting to know board members through weekly updates and monthly individual phone conferences, and visiting seemingly every stakeholder in Ohio.

I am particularly proud of the board’s dialogue with Superintendent DeMaria to develop his 2018 goals. I believe it illustrates our shared interests and emphasis on inclusion and the educational improvements for which we are striving together. In particular, Paolo is committed to:

  • Nurture strong, positive relationships with Board members, members of the legislature, associations and advocacy groups, educators, and other stakeholders.
  • Create opportunities for focused stakeholder engagement on key educational topics – particularly for parents and students.
  • Strengthen and focus the Department’s efforts to support school improvement including the implementation of the school improvement features of the state’s ESSA application and research and dissemination of evidence based practices in closing achievement gaps.
  • Drive policy improvement work on the following:
  1. Graduation requirements
  2. Teacher Evaluations and the enactment and implementation of Board approved recommendations
  3. Report Cards and opportunities to improve clarity, fairness and meaning
  4. Assessments and opportunities to appropriately reduce testing, and the exploration of alternative modes of assessment

Refreshing, right? But what have we accomplished in 2017? Well, from my perspective….


We began by tackling the Graduating Class of 2018 Crisis through a workgroup that included myself, key stakeholders from education, business and community. Our recommendations were included in our biennial budget recommendations and were adopted by the legislature.

Important topics emerged from this workgroup that have framed much of our discussion throughout the year. Topics included alternative assessments to demonstrate competency, real world problem-based and integrated curriculum, career-technology paths and importance of 21st century and social-emotional skills.

The Superintendents Assessment Advisory Workgroup then made further assessment recommendations to reduce state-mandated testing. To date, the board has recommended to the legislature to eliminate English language arts and WorkKeys and will vote to recommend that the Class of 2018 Options be extended to 2019 and 2020 graduating classes.  UPDATE:  BOARD VOTED TO EXTEND AT JANUARY MEETING.  RECOMENDATIONS NOW GO TO LEGISLATURE FOR CONSIDERATION.

In March, we began work on a 5-year ODE Strategic Plan process with a SBOE Retreat to establish the board’s core priorities. I sit on the ODE SP Steering Committee and the Excellent Educators & Instructional Practices Workgroup. Attracting and retaining high-quality educators has been at the heart of our research and concern. Four other workgroups also include a majority of educators: Student Supports & School Climate and Culture; High School Success & Post secondary Connections; Standards, Assessments, and Accountability; and Early Learning & Literacy. We hope to adopt a final draft this spring.

(We reviewed this report to jumpstart out-of-box thinking to begin each of our workgroups)

As a member of SBOE’s Professional Development Workgroup, I discussed and approved our Policies & Procedures Manual revisions.


As a member of the board, I approved the Educator Standards Board recommendations to streamline the Teacher Evaluation process (OTES) and the Resident Educator Program.

In February, Ohio Every Student Succeeds (ESSA) Plan was submitted to the federal government for review. I worked closely with the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education to include “well-rounded education” in six sections that will continue to position the arts in education as an important component of a child’s overall education. ESSA also offers more opportunities to target resources for our most vulnerable students: the homeless, economically-disadvantaged, and our youngest scholars.{“issue_id”:394129,”page”:22

The board unanimously voted to support ECOT’s repayment of $60 million for inability to verify 2015-16 enrollment. Legal challenges about the ruling from ECOT remain as well as ECOT’s interest in moving to a dropout recovery school. Questions about accurate enrollment data persist for the 2016-17 school year. Related Sponsor Evaluation Review at


As a member of the Achievement and Graduation Committee, I reviewed and adopted the English Language Arts, Math and Technology Ohio Learning Standards. Science, Social Studies, and Financial Literacy Ohio Standards have been under our review and we expect to adopt them at our January 2018 meeting.

I enthusiastically supported adding the Ohio Seal of Biliteracy as an option for graduates.

OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal is also one of the nine options available as part of the non-career tech alternative graduation option for the Class of 2018.

ODE rolled out a $2 Million Grant opportunity that encourages integrated curriculum. You can count on me to continue to enthusiastically advocate for increasing opportunities for educators to collaborate, especially with their arts colleagues to create important connections across curriculum for deeper student learning!

Online Professional Learning Module for Gifted Training: As you know, I supported the recently approved changes to the gifted rules to require general education teachers who are designated providers of gifted education services to receive high-quality professional development in gifted education. This professional development must meet eight gifted education competencies and include a minimum of 30 clock hours during year one and a minimum of 30 clock hours during year two with additional clock hours in subsequent years. These teachers also receive ongoing support from an educator with gifted licensure or endorsement. To help Ohio school districts meet these requirements, the Ohio Leadership Advisory Council (OLAC) is creating free professional learning resources. Developed by nationally-recognized experts in gifted education, these resources can be used by districts for individual or group-based learning. The first 30 hours is now available.  There is no cost for these modules, but they must be supported by a trained facilitator. More information can be found here. The OLAC website is:

As a member of the Accountability Committee, I voted to modify the newly revamped 22+ Adult High School Diploma program so that individuals working will have their best chance to receive a high school diploma and hopefully continue to gain employable skills.

We reviewed ESSA Section G: 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Section I: Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program and McKinley-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. My board colleague, Meryl Johnson, gave us an overview of best practices in trauma-informed interventions critical for students affected by adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and reaffirmed a critical need for more counselors and social workers in our schools.


Dustin Weaver, an English teacher at Chillicothe High School, represented us well as the 2017 Ohio Teacher of the Year. I am confident that Powell’s Liberty Tree Elementary art teacher, Jonathan Juravich, will also prove to be an outstanding ambassador as the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year! Working with my districts to nominate excellent educators for this prestigious award is my favorite part of the job!


At our January 2018 meeting, we will discuss a resolution to appoint a working group to review and recommend changes to improve understanding and usability of the State Report Card.
I see this as a logical component for review as part of the implementation of our ODE Strategic and Ohio ESSA Plan.  UPDATE:  TABLED UNTIL FEBRUARY MEETING.

Paper vs Computer Testing  questions persist in regard to whether the tests are developmentally appropriate and whether these tests measure knowledge or computer skills.

End-of-Course State Testing has some wanting us to continue to administer the Social Studies EOC test because they are concerned that the Founding Fathers Documents will not be taught otherwise. I have found that this is completely contrary to what is happening in schools. A reliance of memorizing amendments, etc. to pass a test has nothing to do with gaining an understanding of the important of these documents through authentic learning experiences that teachers no longer have time to implement because of testing!

State Report Card data collection re: Chronic Absenteeism and End-of-Course Test Retakes continue to be controversial.

The New Academic Distress Commission, that was added to HB 70 in 2015
in the eleventh hour, remains besieged by numerous legal challenges in Youngstown City Schools. Lorain City School District has become the second district to fall under terms of HB 70, which reduces the elected board of education to an advisory role and replaces the superintendent with a CEO. Also, after the first report card a district receives under HB 70, the CEO has the power to reconstitute any school in the district. As part of that change, principals and administrative staff can be replaced. A majority of the school’s staff, including teaching and non-teaching employees, can also be replaced. The CEO can hire a nonprofit or for-profit organization to manage operations of the school. Schools can be re-opened as a community school, a STEM school, or even permanently closed.


We developed required legislative policy in response to HB 410 Chronic Absenteeism.

Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty

Senate Bill 85 (Senator Huffman) To create the Opportunity Scholarship Program:

House Bill 200 (Representative Koehler) To create the Opportunity Scholarship Program:

Senate Bill 197 BULLYING (Williams) To require a tiered disciplinary procedure for harassment, intimidation, or bullying in school; to require annual student instruction about preventing such acts; and to create the offense of aggravated bullying as a third-degree misdemeanor. 1st Hearing, Sponsor testimony.
House Bill 170 COMPUTER SCIENCE (Carfagna, Duffey) With regard to academic content standards and curriculum requirements for computer science; to revise educator qualifications regarding computer science; and to authorize public schools to establish computer science and technology funds. 3rd Hearing, All testimony.

Senate Bill 216 (Huffman) includes:

Educational aide permits and educational paraprofessional licenses:
Removes requirement for licensure for non-teaching employees working as an educational aide in non-federally funded programs. (ORC 3319.088)
Removes all qualifications for educational aide licensure besides an initial background check. (ORC 3319.088)

Non-teaching employees as substitute educational aides:
Allows non-teaching employees to serve as substitute educational aides without holding a permit or license. (ORC 3319.088)

Educator license grade bands:
Sets educator license grade bands as only K-8 or 6-12. (ORC 3319.22)

Educator licenses for substitute teaching:
Requires the State Board to establish new standards and requirements for obtaining an educator license for substitute teaching. Prohibits the new standards from (1) requiring an applicant to hold a postsecondary degree in any specified subject area and (2) restricting the number of school days that the holder of the license may work. (ORC 3319.226)

Teacher employment outside of licensure area:
Permits a school district superintendent to employ a licensed teacher to teach a subject area or grade level for which the person is not licensed. (ORC 3319.361)

Go to Ohio Legislative Service Commission for summaries at


SBOE meetings can now be viewed

on The Ohio Channel at


Join in the conversation and contribute to Ohio’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan

Under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Ohio will create a plan for how our local, state and federal programs are aligned to help all of our students be successful. The Ohio Department of Education will be seeking your involvement at a series of meetings throughout the state. Everyone is welcome to attend and share their ideas. Please join us at a meeting near you.

Additionally, the department will host a series of webinars covering focus areas within ESSA. Participants can learn more about specific topics and share their thoughts through a variety of response options.

The Ohio Department of Education is committed to comprehensive and collaborative community engagement leading to the development of our state Student Success Plan. A plan that is deeply rooted in the needs of Ohio’s students, educators and communities requires everyone’s input.

More information is coming soon. Please visit this website for the latest.

Local School Districts Band Together To Advocate For Local Control!

More background about important educational issues facing us in Ohio….from Joan Platz, Ohio Alliance for Arts in Education’s Arts on Line Education Update September 7, 2015 (
See “Superintendent: State making it ‘nearly impossible’ to teach” by Hannah Sparling, The Enquirer, August 3, 2015 at
Boards of education are also reacting negatively to Governor Kasich’s veto of a provision in HB64 (biennial budget) that would have ensured that school districts affected by the phase-down of TPP/PUTPP supplemental payments would received no less funding than in FY15.  The veto means that 116 school districts will receive a cut in state funding in FY17 compared to FY15 (about $84 million).  Some school districts are calling for lawmakers to override the governor’s veto when they return to Columbus in September.
See “Ohio legislature might reverse Gov. Kasich’s school-funding veto” by Jim Siegel,
The Columbus Dispatch, August 9, 2015 at
Lawmakers are also expected to take action later this month on HB2 (Dovilla/Roegner), a charter school reform bill that awaits a House response to Senate amendments.  Although the bill seemed to have the support of the Ohio House after Senate approval on June 25, 2015, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and Senate President Keith Faber decided that the bill needed to be reviewed by a conference committee.
See “Ohio lawmakers stall on charter-school reform after they hurried through school choice bill”, by Doug Livingston, The Beacon Journal, June 26, 2015 at
New Audit of Charter Schools Released:  State Auditor David Yost released on September 3, 2015 a special audit initiated on January 14, 2014 for certain community schools sponsored by the St. Aloysius Orphanage, North Central Ohio Educational Service Center (NCOESC), and the Warren County Educational Service Center.  The special audit reviewed the schools’ organizational structure and operations, management companies, and other organizations that provide services.
According to the press release issued by the Auditor’s Office, the Ohio General Assembly should examine current statutes regarding the organization and operations of community schools, sponsors, and management companies, and do the following:
-Establish defined roles and responsibilities and minimum objective academic and financial standards for sponsors to evaluate proposed schools.
-Examine various methods of structuring relationships among community schools, sponsors, and management companies, and enact laws that would prevent arrangements that might be considered improper conflicts of interest.
Auditors also examined a total of $3,727,830 in expenditures by the schools, and identified $27,315 in unsupported disbursements and $4,802 in findings for recovery issued against two community school directors sponsored by the NCOESC.
See “Charter-school sponsor system is ‘broken,’ Yost says” by Bill Bush, The Columbus Dispatch, September 4, 2015 at

Hot Topics @ The State Board of Education

Hi All!

I know it has been a while but things have been pretty hectic!  I continue to meet with my districts, attend events, and to “learn the ropes” of my new position!  I have been posting relevant information on my Facebook page at Pat Bruns for State Board of Education.  On the outside change that you have not been following the news about education in Ohio, below is a good link that will get you up to speed…the July State Board meeting has proven to be a game-changer. 

The link below is a good overview of what we are up against!  FYI:  all the major editorial boards in Ohio have supported our call for an external investigation and recently the Wall Street Journal also weighed in that and external investigation is warranted.

It’s saddens me that there is possibly a culture of mistrust and inaccurate data reporting at the Ohio Department of Education. It is never a good thing when low-level staff are put in the middle. I believe an external investigation would provide employees, under oath, to be able to speak freely.
There is evidently a history of ODE miscalculations that has awarded charter schools more public funds then they would have been entitled to that go back to a settlement of $6 million that CPS received.
Currently pending before the Ohio Supreme Court is a case that the Dayton, Toledo, and Cleveland Public schools have brought that would award them over $10 million collectively. Again, this is the result of funds being diverted to charter schools beginning in 2005. In the case of Dayton public schools alone that require them to turn over $5 million during a school year and resulted in the layoff of over 300 teachers and staff that year.  These are setbacks in a school system that take years sometimes to recover from. In the meantime, children’s academic success and the reputation of the district can be at stake.
On another note, the Ohio Department of Education and the Youngstown City School District has filed a lawsuit against the State of Ohio as a result of the implementation of House Bill 70. Specifically, the amendment that was added in the 11th hour with only one hearing, completely overhauls the governing structure of that school system. A CEO is appointed and the current superintendent and the elected Board of Education are stripped of their responsibilities and powers.  I could send you the analysis of the resolution if you’d like to see it. The original House Bill 70 was cosponsored by Denise Driehaus and had broad bipartisan support. It provided the necessary structure for other school districts to implement the community Learning center model that CPS is using in 42 of their 54 schools at this point…. and that is a good thing!
The Ohio School Board Association distributed a template resolution that many local school districts have adopted in opposition to House Bill 70 as well.

Please continue to spread the word about what’s going on and encourage folks to contact Senator Peggy Lehner, Chair of the Education Committee. I’ll be sending more information about Substitute HB2, which is still pending and would make very good strides in providing more accountability and transparency of charter schools sponsors.

I hope this finds you all enjoying an Artful Day!

🙂 Pat

“Great things do not just happen by impulse but as a succession of small things linked together.”  Vincent Van Gogh


Pat Bruns

2015 State Board of Education Member
District 4 (Hamilton & Warren Counties; part of Middletown)
on FB at Pat Bruns for State Board of Education
On Twitter @VotePatBruns
Register and VOTE!
“If the 99% voted, the 1% wouldn’t matter!”

Ohio Alliance for Arts Education Arts on Line Education Update

Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update
Joan Platz
March 30, 2015
1)  Ohio News
•131st Ohio General Assembly:  The Ohio House and Senate are on spring break until April 14, 2015. Committee meetings will begin again on April 16th.
•Update on the House Finance Committee:  The House Finance Committee, chaired by Representative Smith, completed public hearings last week on HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget for FY16-17.  The chairman expects to use the next two weeks to consider amendments and develop a substitute bill, which is expected to be introduced the week of April 14, 2015.  House Finance committee members have discussed changing Governor Kasich’s school funding proposal to adjust for the way the Current Agricultural Use Valuations (CAUVs) affect the school funding formula for lower wealth rural school districts.  Lawmakers are also expected to make changes in proposed tax cuts and increases in the sales tax, CAT tax, and severance tax on oil and gas production.
•Senate Advisory Committee on Testing:  Hannah News reports that the Senate Advisory Committee on Testing, chaired by Senator Lehner, met on March 25, 2015 to review the results of a survey of educators, principals, and superintendents about testing in Ohio.  According to Matt Williams, who is facilitating the work of the committee, over 17,000 surveys have already been returned completed.  Most of the respondents reported having some problems with testing this year.  The committee is also discussing the purpose of testing, and will develop questions to present to representatives of PARCC, Pearson and AIR at an April 15, 2015 meeting.  The committee has created a web site to collect public feedback about testing at
•ODE Issues Guidance on 2014-15 Safe Harbor Provisions:  The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released on March 24, 2015 information about the impact of changes in recent laws regarding accountability and consequences for the 2014-15 school year.
Some of the changes provide a “safe harbor” as Ohio’s schools transition to new assessments based on the Common Core State Standards.  These provisions, approved in 130-HB487 (Brenner) and 131-HB7 (Buchy), waive some of the accountability measures, such as issuing an overall composite letter grade and component grades on the state report cards for schools, and certain consequences for schools, students, and teachers.
2)  National News
•House and Senate Approve Budgets:  Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate adopted 2016 budgets last week along party lines, setting the stage for the Republican majority in both houses to negotiate a final spending plan by an April 15, 2015 deadline.  The final budget would be used to guide the development of appropriations measures for government agencies and departments for FY2016, which starts on October 1, 2015, including allocations for the Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
With Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, most of the budget negotiations focused last week on how much to cut entitlement programs and how much to boost defense spending without raising taxes and exceeding the strict spending caps (sequestration) approved in 2011.  Both the House and Senate budgets total over $3 trillion, and eliminate government deficits in 10 years by cutting domestic programs, but provide few details about how to accomplish that. The Senate budget would cut $236 billion and the House budget $759 billion from nondefense agencies.
If the Republican majority in both chambers can work-out a budget compromise by the April deadline, it will be the first time that Congress has adopted a budget since 2006.  It would also set-up a parliamentary process called “reconciliation” which would enable the Senate to approve legislation without worrying about a Democratic filibuster.  Senate Republicans want to use this procedure to repeal the Affordable Care Act and enact tax reform legislation, but to do so Republicans would also have to overcome a presidential veto threat.
See “House Republicans Propose Budget with Deep Cuts” by Jonathan Weisman, New York Times, March 17, 2015 at
See “Senate passes budget as negotiations with House loom ahead” by Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade, Politico, March 27, 2015 at
•Update on Student Privacy Bill:  Politico’s Morning Education reported on March 23, 2015 that student privacy experts are already questioning a bipartisan bill entitled the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 introduced in the U.S. House last week, and its ability to protect students from educational technology companies and online data mining.
The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Representatives Luke Messer (R) and Jared Polis (D), and has been developed in collaboration with the White House. The bill aims to tighten-up the data industry’s ability to collect and sell to vendors personal information about students when they use online textbooks, tutorials, games, quizzes, or conduct research at school and at home.  The information collected is not part of a student’s “official record”, and therefore not protected under the 1974 Student Privacy Act.  According to the article, the educational technology industry earned nearly $8 billion last year by collecting and selling this “unofficial” data.
The bill is an effort to fulfill President Obama’s commitment to hold the educational technology companies to standards that would guarantee that data collected about students would be used only for educational purposes. But the article says, “The bill lets education technology companies continue to collect huge amounts of intimate information on students, compile it into profiles of their aptitudes and attitudes — and then mine that data for commercial gain. It permits the companies to sell personal information about students to colleges and employers, and potentially to military recruiters as well.”
Opponents of the draft bill include the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. They want parents to have the right to “opt” their children out of any type of commercial data collection.
See “Privacy bill wouldn’t stop data mining of kids” by Stephanie Simon, Politico, March 23, 2015 at
3)  Update on Senate Bill 3:  The Ohio Senate approved SB3 (Hite/Faber) mainly on party lines on March 25, 2015.  The bill includes a mixture of provisions about limiting testing, deregulation for high performing school districts, and teacher evaluations.
Most Democrats opposed two provisions that permit boards of education of certain high performing school districts to employ individuals who do not meet state teacher licensing standards, although one of the provisions was amended to say that teachers must be licensed to teach in the subject area, but not necessarily for a particular grade level.  The Senate Education Committee also removed the term “high performing” from the bill, but maintained the criteria.
The following is a summary of SB3 as passed by the Senate.  New provisions added to the bill as “introduced” are labeled with a “*” .
Senate Bill 3 As Passed by the Senate
•Section 3301.079 (D)(3) Diagnostic assessments:  Requires schools to continue to administer reading, writing, and math diagnostic assessments to kindergarten students, and reading assessments to students in grades one through three, but beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, eliminates the requirement that school districts administer the diagnostic assessments for grades one or two in writing and mathematics, or for grade three in writing.
•Section 3301.0711(B)(1)(a)(b) Reading assessments:  Removes the requirement that school districts administer the English language arts assessment to students in the third grade twice a year starting in the 2015-16 school year.
•NEW Section 3301.0728 Limits on Testing:  Requires that beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, school districts, community schools, STEM schools, and college preparatory board schools limit the cumulative amount of time spent on the administration of state assessments to 2 percent of the school year. The state assessments included in this limit are achievement assessments administered to students in grades three through eight, the end-of-course examinations required in high school under the College and Work Ready Assessment System, and any assessment required by the district or school to be administered district-wide or school-wide to all students in a specified area or grade level.
-Limits the cumulative amount of time used for taking practice or diagnostic assessments used to prepare for the state assessments described above to 1 percent of the school year.
*States that the time limitations do not apply to the following: administration of assessments to students with disabilities; any related diagnostic assessment for students who fail to attain a passing score on the third-grade English language arts achievement assessment; additional assessments administered to identify a student as gifted; the administration of substitute examinations for end-of- course examinations in American history, American government, and science;  Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate examinations.
-Authorizes a school district or school to exceed its prescribed assessment time limitations through the adoption of a resolution, but requires the district board or school governing authority to conduct at least one public hearing on the proposed resolution.
•Section 3302.02 Third Grade Reading: Prohibits the superintendent from establishing any performance indicator for passage of the third or fourth grade English language arts assessment given in the fall beginning in the 2015-16 school year. (Conforming language.)
•Section 3302.03 (b) Third Grade Reading:  Requires the cumulative totals from both the fall and spring administrations of the third grade English language arts achievement tests for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school year.
*Section 3302.034 Extra curricular activities. Eliminates the requirement that the state board of education report extra curricular services on the report card.
•Section 3302.13 Third Grade Reading:  Aligns this provision with changes in the administration of the third grade guarantee, including the development of an improvement plan for reading.
NEW Section 3302.16 (A) Exemptions for School Districts:  Allows school districts that qualify to be exempt from the following:
-The teacher qualification requirements under the third-grade reading guarantee. This exemption does not relieve a teacher from holding a valid Ohio license in a subject area and grade level determined appropriate by the board of education of that district. (License means the same as section 3319.31 of the Revised Code.)
-The mentoring component of the Ohio teacher residency program, so long as the district utilizes a local approach to train and support new teachers.
-Any provision of the Revised Code or rule or standard of the state board of education prescribing a minimum or maximum class size.
*Any provision of the Revised Code or rule or standard of the state board requiring teachers to be licensed specifically in the grade level in which they are teaching, except unless otherwise prescribed by federal law. This exemption does not relieve a teacher from holding a valid Ohio license in the subject area in which that teacher is teaching, and at least some grade level determined appropriate by the district board.
-Allows the superintendent of a school district that qualifies under division (D) of this section to employ an individual who is not licensed as required by sections 3319.22 to 3319.30 of the Revised Code, but who is otherwise qualified based on experience, to teach classes in the district. Requires the board of education of the school district to approve the individual’s employment and provide mentoring and professional development opportunities to that individual, as determined necessary by the board. As a condition of employment under this section, an individual shall be subject to a criminal records check and will be subject to Chapter 3307 of the Revised Code, which is the State Teachers Retirement System.
*Section 3302.16 (D) Criteria for Exemptions:  Requires a city, local, or exempted village school district to meet all of the following benchmarks on the most recent report card issued for that district under section 3302.03 of the Revised Code to qualify for an exemption from certain laws and rules:
-At least eighty-five percent of the total possible points for the performance index score
-A grade of an “A” for performance indicators met
-A four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate of at least ninety-three percent
-A five-year adjusted cohort graduation rate of at least ninety-five percent.
Section 3313.46 (A)  Threshold for Contracts:  Increases the threshold to fifty thousand dollars regarding certain requirements governing the bidding for contracts by the board of education of any school district, when any such board determines to build, repair, enlarge, improve, or demolish any school building,
*REMOVED:  Section 3313.72 Health Services: Allows the board of education of a city, exempted village, or local school district to enter into a contract with a health district, a hospital, an appropriately licensed health care professional, or an educational service center for the purpose of providing the services of a school physician, dentist, or nurse.
Section 3314.03, 3326.11, and 3328.24 Compliance: Requires community schools, stem schools and college preparatory schools to comply with Section 3301.0728 Limits on Testing.
*Section 3319.02 Principal evaluations:  States that beginning with evaluations conducted for the 2015-2016 school year, if the state board prescribes a framework for the evaluation of principals and assistant principals, student academic growth shall account for not more than thirty-five per cent of each evaluation.
*Section 3319.114 Alternative teacher evaluation:  Makes changes in the alternative teacher evaluation.  States that beginning with the 2015-16 school year the teacher performance measure, will account for fifty percent of each rating rather than 42.5 percent. The student academic growth measure will account for thirty-five per cent of each rating. The remainder of the evaluation can include one, or any combination of student surveys; teacher self-evaluations; peer review evaluations; student portfolios; any other components determined appropriate by the district board or school governing authority.
-States that the ODE shall compile a list of approved instruments that districts and schools may use, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year for teacher evaluations.
*Section 3319.223 Ohio Teacher Residency Program: Changes the requirements for the Ohio Teacher Residency Program.  States that if the state board of education prescribes an assessment for participants in the third or fourth year of the program, each school district or school may either: require each participant to pass the assessment to successfully complete the program; or during the third and fourth years of the program, assess each participant’s progression by using the participant’s annual evaluation.  Each evaluation shall be conducted by qualified individuals.  (Section 3319.111 (D))
*Section 3319.26  Alternative resident educator license:  (C) States that rules adopted under this section shall require applicants for the alternative resident educator license to satisfy certain conditions prior to issuance of the license, but they shall not require applicants to have completed a major or COURSEWORK in the subject area for which application is being made.
Section 5 (A) CFAP:  Requires the School Facilities Commission (SFC), by December 15, 2015, to develop and submit to the General Assembly a proposal regarding the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program (CFAP). The proposal should include legislative provisions under which school districts that have not received assistance under CFAP may, upon becoming eligible for assistance under the program, apply for and receive a portion of the state funds for which they are eligible, to be used for technology, building expansion, and physical alterations to improve school safety or security.
4)  Update on House Bill 2 – Charter School Reform:  The Ohio House approved on March 26, 2015 by a vote of 70-25 HB2 (Dovilla/Roegner), which includes several provisions that will change charter school law and increase accountability requirements for charter schools.  However, during the floor debate several Democrats suggested that the bill did not go far enough to ensure that charter schools operate in the public interest, rather than for profit makers, and are held accountable to tax payers.
The bill adds provisions that further clarify the roles of the ODE, sponsors, governing authorities, and operators.  The ODE will have the authority to oversee all sponsors; sponsors will have more requirements to meet to ensure charter school accountability; governing boards will have more responsibilities and requirements to meet; operators will be evaluated by the ODE; and there are more requirements to close loopholes about charter schools complying with the sunshine and ethics laws.
Not included in the bill are some provisions recommended by State Auditor David Yost, such as requiring charter schools to follow Governmental Accountability Standards for financial reporting and stricter truancy and student attendance laws, and repealing the authority of the ODE to sponsor charter schools.  The debate also continues between those who want to hold private operators accountable and responsive to the tax payers for spending public funds, verses those who believe that private companies should not be required to “open their books” to the public.  AND, still not included in the bill is a better way to fund charter schools, rather than as a deduction from traditional public school accounts.
The following is a summary of the bill as passed by the Ohio House.  New provisions that have been added to the bill “as introduced” are labeled with a “*”.
House Bill 2 (Dovilla/Roegner)
-Sections 3301.52 (O) and Section 4 Preschool Programs: Permits high-performing charter schools to operate a preschool program and permits exemplary sponsors to authorize a new charter school to operate a preschool program.
(H) (j) Requires that a preschool program operated by a charter school complies with current laws and minimum standards prescribed in rules.
States that dropout recovery charter schools are prohibited from operating a preschool program.
States that if the school operates a preschool program that is licensed by the ODE, admission to the school may be open to individuals younger than five years of age, but the school shall not receive funds for those individuals.
A similar provision is included in HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.
*Section 3302.03 Report Cards: Requires after July 1, 2015 that the ODE count the academic performance of students attending dropout recover conversion community schools on the sponsor’s school district report card, but states that only the scores of those students who would be assigned to the school district will be included.
*NEW Section 3313.131: States that no person who is a member of the governing authority of a community school established under Chapter 3314 of the Revised Code shall be a member of a board of education.
*Section 3314.011 Governing Authority Fiscal Officer: Requires that the fiscal officer of a charter school be employed by the governing authority, but permits a governing authority to annually waive the requirement by resolution with sponsor approval.  In the bill as introduced the governing authority was required to hire the fiscal officer without the exception. Requires the fiscal officer to meet with the governing authority annually.
*Section 3314.015 ODE oversight of community school sponsors: States that the ODE may add additional years to any renewal agreement, not to exceed a total of twelve years, if, on or after the effective date of this amendment, the sponsor is rated as “exemplary” under section 3314.016 of the Revised Code, and the sponsor continues to meet all the requirements of this chapter.
-Section 3314.016 (D)(1)ODE Rating Sponsors:  Allows the ODE to establish additional incentives  based upon a sponsor’s overall rating, to the incentives included in the bill.  Sponsors with an overall rating of “exemplary” may take advantage of the following incentives:
-The ability to extend the term of the contract between the sponsoring entity and the community school beyond the term described in the written agreement with the department;
-An exemption from the preliminary agreement and contract adoption and execution deadline requirements prescribed in division (D) of section 3314.02.
-An exemption from the automatic contract expiration requirement, should a new community school fail to open by the thirtieth day of September of the calendar year in which the community school contract is executed.
*NEW Section 3314.019 Auditor of State:  States that a community school’s sponsor shall be the party responsible for communicating and meeting with the auditor of state regarding an audit of the school or the condition of financial and enrollment records of the school, regardless of whether the sponsor has entered into an agreement with another entity to perform all or part of the sponsor’s oversight duties.
*Section 3314.02 (E) (5) Governing Authority Membership Requirements:  Removes the provision in the bill as introduced prohibiting a vendor from serving on the governing authority board. The bill now prohibits employees of school districts or educational service centers from serving on a governing board of a charter school sponsored by the district, but would permit a vendor of a school district or educational service center to serve on a charter school governing authority.
(6) Requires each member of the governing authority of a community school to annually file a disclosure statement with the names of any immediate relatives or business associates employed by any of the following within the previous three years: the sponsor or operator of that community school; a school district or educational service center that has contracted with that community school; a vendor that is currently engaged in business or has previously engaged in business with that community school.
(7) States that no person who is a member of a school district board of education shall serve on the governing authority of any community school.
-Section 3314.02 (E)(8) Sponsor Verify Findings for Recovery:  Requires sponsors to annually verify that a finding for recovery has not been issued by the auditor of state against any member of the governing authority of that community school.
-Section 3314.023  Sponsor Monitoring and Technical Assistance: Requires that when a representative of a sponsor meets monthly with the treasurer or governing authority, that copies of financial and enrollment records be furnished to the community school sponsor, members of the governing authority, and the fiscal officer.
States that if a community school closes or is permanently closed, the designated fiscal officer shall deliver all financial and enrollment records to the school’s sponsor within thirty days of the school’s closure. If the fiscal officer fails to provide the records in a timely manner, the sponsor has the right of action against the fiscal officer to compel delivery of all financial and enrollment records of the school.
-Section 3314.025 (A) Sponsor Expenditures: Requires that each sponsor of a community school shall annually submit a report describing the amount and type of expenditures made to provide oversight and technical assistance to each community school it sponsors.
Section 3314.025 (B) Requires the state board of education not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, to establish requirements and a reporting procedure.
-Section 3314.026 Operator Replaces Governing Authority:  Repeals a statute that prescribes an appeal procedure in cases in which the governing authority has notified the operator of its intent to terminate or not renew the operator’s contract. This provision allowed the operator to replace the members of the governing authority in certain cases. Repeal of this provision is also included in HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.
-Section 3314.029 Office of School Sponsorship: Permits the ODE to establish the format and deadlines for applications to the ODE Office of School Sponsorship.
Permits the state board to establish additional criteria necessary for approval for sponsorship by ODE not later than December 31, 2015.
Permits an appeal of a denial of an application under divisions (A)(2)(a) and (b).  These provisions are similar to provisions in HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.
-Section 3314.029 (A)(5) Transformation Alliance School District:  States that if the ODE receives an application for direct authorization under this section for a school to be located in an alliance municipal school district, the transformation alliance of that district may offer a recommendation regarding that application. The ODE shall notify the transformation alliance of an application within fourteen days after receipt of the application.
-Section 3314.03 ODE Contract Between Sponsor and School (A)(4):  Includes all applicable report card measures as performance standards in the contract with the school.
*REMOVED Approve Financial Plan:   Clarifies that ODE shall approve financial plans of new charter schools, and that the plan shall stand as approved if ODE fails to make a decision within 14 days of submission.
-Section 3314.03 (A)(9) and NEW 3314.032 Contract with Sponsor – Facilities: Requires that the contract between the charter school governing authority and the sponsor include an addendum outlining the facilities to be used and their locations, and include the annual costs associated with leasing that are paid by or on behalf of the school, the annual mortgage principal and interest payments, the name of the lender or landlord and relationship with the operator.
-NEW Section 3314.03 Contract/Preschool Programs (A) (11) (j): States that if the school operates a preschool program that is licensed by the ODE, the school shall comply with sections 3301.50 to 3301.59 of the Revised Code, and the minimum standards for preschool programs prescribed in rules adopted by the state board under section 3301.53 of the Revised Code.
*NEW Section 3314.03 (A) (27) Contract/Records: Requires the school’s attendance and participation policies and records be available for public inspection.
-NEW Section 3314.03 (A) (28) Contract/Blended Learning Model:  States that if a school operates using the blended learning model, the school must supply the following information in the contract: an indication of what blended learning model or models will be used; a description of how student instructional needs will be determined and documented; the method to be used for determining competency, granting credit, and promoting students to a higher grade level; the school’s attendance requirements, including how the school will document participation in learning opportunities; a statement describing how student progress will be monitored; a statement describing how private student data will be protected; a description of the professional development activities that will be offered to teachers.
*Section 3314.03 (A) (29) Contract/Loans:  Requires that all moneys the school’s operator loans to the school, including facilities loans or cash flow assistance, must be accounted for, documented, and bear interest at a fair market rate.
*NEW Section 3314.03 (B) (5) Internal financial controls:  Requires the school to submit copies of all policies and procedures regarding internal financial controls adopted by the governing authority of the school.
-NEW Section 3314.031 (A)  SBE/ODE Records for Operators: Requires beginning December 31, 2015 that the ODE maintain an accurate record of the names and identifying information of all entities that have entered into a contract with the governing authority of a charter school to manage or operate that school.
-Section 3314.031 (A) (2) Contract:  Requires that the ODE receive from the governing authority of each charter school a copy of the contract between a governing authority and its operator.
-Section 3314.031 (B) SBE/ODE Performance of Operators: Requires the ODE not later than July 1, 2016, to develop and publish an annual performance report for all operators of charter schools in the state. The report will be made available on the department’s web site.
(C) Requires that the performance of management companies and organizations be reported and included in the annual charter school report required under 3314.015 (A)(4).
NEW 3314.032 (A) Contract Operator Early Termination – Who Owns Facilities: Requires that on and after the effective date of this section, any new or renewed contract between the governing authority of a community school and an operator shall include the criteria to be used for early termination of the operator contract; requires notification procedures and a time line for early termination or non renewal of the operator contract; and a stipulation of which entity owns all community school facilities and property including, but not limited to, equipment, furniture, fixtures, instructional materials and supplies, computers, printers, and other digital devices purchased by the governing authority or operator.
*NEW 3314.032 (B)  Leases Fair Market Value:  States that the operator with which the governing authority of a community school contracts for services shall not lease any parcel of real property to that community school for an amount that exceeds the fair market rental value of that property by more than five per cent. For each lease of a parcel of real property that is entered into by the operator of a community school on or after the effective date of this section, the sponsor of the school shall verify that the lease does not exceed the fair market rental value of that property by more than five per cent.
*NEW Section 3314.034 ODE Approve Sponsor Contract Low Performing Schools: States that on and after December 31, 2015, any community school that has had more than one sponsor in the previous five years must first receive approval from the ODE before it may enter into a contract with a new sponsor, if the following apply:
(A) The community school has received a grade of “D” or “F” for the performance index score, and an overall grade of “D”or “F” for the value-added progress dimension or another measure of student academic progress if adopted by the state board, on the most recent report card issued for the school pursuant to that section.
(B) The community school is one in which a majority of the students are enrolled in a dropout prevention and recovery program, and it has received a rating of “does not meet standards” for the annual student growth measure and combined graduation rates on the most recent report card.
-Section 3314.035 Governing Authority Membership Posting: Requires the names of charter governing authority members to be posted on the school’s web site; and requires the names and addresses of governing authority members to be provided to sponsors and ODE.
Section 3314.036 Governing Authority Independent Council: Requires that a charter school governing authority retain independent counsel for purposes of negotiating the contract with their sponsor and operator.
-Section 3314.037 Governing Authority Training: Requires governing authority members, administrative and supervisory staff of charter schools to receive annual training regarding public records and open meetings.
-Section 3314.038 Student Residence:  Requires each community school to annually submit to the ODE and auditor of state a report of each instance under which a student who is enrolled in the community school resides in a children’s residential center.
*Section 3314.039 Changing Sponsors:  States that beginning on the effective date of this section, no community school shall change sponsors within its first four years of operation, unless the ODE authorizes the school to do so.
Section 3314.06 Admissions procedures for preschools:  States that If the school operates a preschool program that is licensed by the ODE, admission to the school may be open to individuals younger than five years of age, but the school shall not receive funds under this chapter for those individuals.
-Section 3314.07 (3) Sponsor Non-renewal: Requires sponsors to notify schools by December 1, rather than February 1, of non renewal.
-Section 3314.074 (D) Consolidated Charter School Assets:  States that a charter school that engages in a merger or consolidation and becomes a single public benefit corporation will not be required to distribute assets provided that the governing authority of the charter school created by the merger or consolidation enters into a contract for sponsorship with an entity rated as “exemplary” by the ODE.  A similar provision is included in HB 64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.
-Section 3314.08 Funding for Preschool Programs for Community Schools:  Specifies the funding requirements for preschool programs for special education.
-Section 3314.19 (N) Sponsor Examines Blended Learning:  Requires sponsors to examine in detail charter schools that plan to use the blended learning model, and report certain information to the ODE.
•Section 3314.23 (C) Sponsor Monitor Internet or computer based school: Requires that the sponsor of each internet- or computer-based community school be responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the online learning standards, and report a school’s failure to comply with these standards to the ODE.
-NEW Section 3314.46  Sponsor selling goods and services: Prohibits a sponsor from selling any goods or services to any charter school it sponsors. States that If the sponsor of a community school entered into a contract prior to the effective date of this section that involves the sale of goods or services to a community school it sponsors, the sponsor shall not be required to comply with this division until the expiration of the contract.
Section 3 Children with Disabilities. Requires the State Board of Education not later than December 31, 2015, to make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding performance standards for community schools in which a majority of the enrolled students are children with disabilities receiving special education, and if it is possible, to remove the exemption from permanent closure.
Section 4. Early Childhood Education:  States that for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, the ODE shall distribute funds appropriated for early childhood education in accordance with this section.
5)  Bills Introduced: 
•SB 136 (Tavares) School Seclusion:  Prohibits the use of seclusion on students in public schools. Section 3319.46 ORC.
•HB130 (Hagen/Duffey) DataOhio Board:  Creates the DataOhio Board, to specify requirements for posting public records online; requires the Auditor of State to adopt rules regarding a uniform accounting system for public offices;  establishes an online catalog of public data at; establishes the Local Government Information Exchange Grant Program, and makes an appropriation. Sections 149.43 and enacts sections 117.432, 149.60, 149.62, and 149.65 ORC.
•HB136 (Young/Rogers) STEM Pilot:  Funds the Lake County Educational Service Center pilot project to support STEM initiatives for middle school students and makes an appropriation.
•Talks Begin on NEA Funding for FY2016:  As the House and Senate negotiate an overall spending plan for our national government, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, chaired by Representative Ken Calvert, held a Public and Outside Witness Hearing on March 18, 2015 on appropriations levels overseen by the subcommittee.
According to Americans for the Arts three witnesses requested that the subcommittee increase support for the National Endowment for the Arts to $155 million.  This would be $9 million more than the current level of funding.
Testifying on behalf of the arts were Karen Hanan, Executive Director of the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA); Melia Tourangeau, President and CEO of the Utah Symphony/Utah Opera; and Anita Stewart, Executive & Artistic Director of Portland Stage in Portland, ME.
•NAMM Foundation Announces Best Communities for Music.
Congratulations to Ohio’s BCME and SMMA Recipients!
The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) and the University of Kansas announced on March 18, 2015 the 388 school districts recognized as among the Best Communities for Music Education (BCME), and the 120 individual schools recognized with the Support Music Merit Award.
This is the 16th year for the NAMM program, which recognizes the efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community leaders to make music part of the core curriculum.
The BCME program evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards, and access to music instruction. A comprehensive survey requests information that reveals statistical and factual information about music education and related opportunities for students to learn music. Researchers at the Center for Public Partnerships & Research, Kansas (an affiliate of the University of Kansas) led the data review.
The BCME designation has helped raise local awareness of quality music programs, and earning the designation has assisted communities in securing funds for music programs threatened by budget cuts.
According to the press release, “News of past winners being recognized nationally often leads to local media coverage, community recognition and even billboards trumpeting the local school music programs.”
The following school districts in Ohio are recipients of the BCME for 2015:
-Archbold Area Schools, Archbold, OH
-Avon Lake City School District, Avon Lake, OH
-Bay Village City School District, Bay Village, OH
-Beachwood City Schools, Beachwood, OH
-Bera City Schools, Bera, OH
-Boardman Local Schools, Boardman, OH
Clark-Shawnee Local School District, Springfield, OH
-Cuyahoga Heights Local School District, Cuyahoga Heights, OH
-Firelands Local Schools, Oberlin, OH
-Forest Hills School District, Cincinnati, OH
-Indian Hills Exempted Village School District, Cincinnati, OH
-Jackson City Schools, Jackson, OH
-Kettering City Schools, Kettering, OH
-Lebanon City Schools, Lebanon, OH
-Oberlin City Schools, Oberlin, OH
-Olmsted Falls City School District, Olmsted Falls, OH
-Perrysburg Exempted Village Schools, Perrysburg, OH
-Shaker Heights City School District, Shaker Heights, OH
-South Central Local Schools, Greenwich, OH
-Stow-Munroe Falls City School District, Stow, OH
-Strongsville City School District, Strongsville, OH
-Sycamore Community Schools, Cincinnati, OH
-Upper Sandusky Exempted Village School District, Upper Sandusky, OH
-West Branch Local School District, Beloit, OH
-Winton Woods City School District, Cincinnati, OH
-Wyoming City Schools, Cincinnati, OH
The following schools in Ohio are recipients of the 2015 SMME:
-Allen East High School, Harrod, OH
-Athens Middle School, Athens, OH
-Monclova Christian Academy, Monclova, OH
-Saint Albert the Great School, Dayton, OH
-Troy Christian Schools, Troy, OH
See “Where are the Best Community for Music Education?  2015 Best Community Designations” NAMM Press Release, March 18, 2015 at

Testing under Fire: Republicans may consider slashing the number of federally required tests.



Republicans on the Hill are finding unusual common ground with teachers unions about an overthrow of the annual testing mandate embedded in No Child Left Behind.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is making reauthorization of the law one of his biggest priorities — and testing is expected to take center stage. He plans to tackle the issue during a hearing early in the new year. Under serious consideration: slashing the number of federally required tests or even doing away with them all together.

This political alliance is part of a larger nationwide movement, buoyed by a grass-roots crusade led by parents and teachers who reject the testing regimes that they say have come to dominate public schools for the past decade.

“We are actively exploring the question of whether the federal mandate on annual tests is warranted,” one GOP aide said. The goal is to give states more flexibility in how they track student progress, report those results to the public and hold schools accountable for all kids.

bipartisan bill gaining momentum among lawmakers would give states grants to audit their testing regimes — and weed out unnecessary exams.

Read more:


Nurture vs Nature: Why Talking to Babies Matters!


The First Year

A baby’s brain needs love to develop. What happens in the first year is profound.

By Yudhijit Bhattacharjee
Photographs by Lynn Johnson

The revelation prompted the researchers to turn their focus from what differentiated the two groups toward what they had in common: being raised in poverty. To understand the children’s environment, the researchers visited their homes with a checklist. They asked if the parents had at least ten books at home for the children, a record player with songs for them, and toys to help them learn numbers. They noted whether the parents spoke to the children in an affectionate voice, spent time answering their questions, and hugged, kissed, and praised them.

The researchers found that children who received more attention and nurturing at home tended to have higher IQs. Children who were more cognitively stimulated performed better on language tasks, and those nurtured more warmly did better on memory tasks.

Many years later, when the kids had entered their teens, the researchers took MRI images of their brains and then matched them up with the records of how warmly nurtured the children had been at both four and eight years old. They found a strong link between nurturing at age four and the size of the hippocampus—a part of the brain associated with memory—but found no correlation between nurturing at age eight and the hippocampus. The results demonstrated just how critically important an emotionally supportive environment is at a very young age. Read on…