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Estrop feeling Springfield being ignored by ODE

State board member says department receptive to success stories.

An exchange at the last Springfield City Schools board meeting showed what might be at the core of the statewide Common Core implementation problem that Superintendent Dr. David Estrop has spent so much energy lately trying to expose.

There could be a disconnect between The Ohio Department of Education and the school districts it governs, he said, and the reason may lie in a breakdown of meaningful communication.

Ohio Board of Education District 10 Representative Ron Rudduck was in attendance as a guest of the board, and after hearing Estrop’s frustration with the too-speedy pace of the Common Core’s implementation in Ohio, he offered some words of wisdom.

“What I’ve found, during my years as a superintendent (in Wilmington), is that there’s not necessarily a disconnect between the ODE and the districts,” Rudduck said, “but it did seem like the ODE did things to us, not for us. But now I’d say that the board itself is very receptive to this kind of information.”

Rudduck was referring to Estrop’s presentation in which he pointed out how Springfield has been able to get ahead of the pack in the implementation of the statewide Common Core standards that will be fully implemented for the 2014-15 school year.

He pointed to the 96 percent Ohio Achievement Test pass rate of his 564 third-graders during last school year’s first implementation of the Common Core’s Third Grade Guarantee, a year earlier than and well above the the 75 percent that Ohio required. And he shared that, in terms of progress, Springfield is ranked 18th in the state among a field of 824 school districts and charter schools.

All of this done, he added, in an urban school district where the availability of technology and other logistics create far greater challenges than for suburban districts. Estrop wondered out loud why the ODE wouldn’t want to hear about this success story and how it is being achieved.

“I’ve emailed them (at the ODE), but I have never received any feedback,” said Estrop. “You would think that when an urban district, with the challenges it has, has success that the state board would want to know about it, and look into how it was achieved. I don’t even know if we were the only ones who implemented (the Third Grade Standard) last year. I have to assume most didn’t.”

Estrop said that this is not the way that effective state government is achieved.

“That’s the role of government: How can we help make you successful. Right?” he said. “If the entire state of Ohio operated this way, we’d have big problems. I’d venture to say the Ohio Department of Transportation wouldn’t be operating very well. Its board makes decisions on where to build roads, but they don’t make decisions on how to build those roads. They leave that up to the experts at ODOT.”

Rudduck, appointed to the state board in August, said that politics can slow things down at the state level. Just in the last few years, he’d seen five different funding models and added that every two years, it seemed, the model would change, depending on who was elected.

“Everyone seems to want to do it their way,” he said. He added that just when the districts would get comfortable with the new model, then the elections would change the model again.

He seemed confident, however, that the state board would be hearing about Springfield’s success — even if it meant he’d have to make them aware of it himself.

“My hope would be that that body would be an advocate for education throughout the state,” said Estrop, “because right now, you’ve got a train wreck waiting to happen.”

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