Improving student performance without raising costs

Ohio Smart Schools student performanceThe economic crisis facing Ohio comes at a time when the state is poised to make comprehensive changes to its education system. The global downturn came to a head just as the state passed sweeping bipartisan education and school finance reform aimed at readying Ohio to thrive in a talent-driven knowledge economy. And more work needs to be done.

The imperative to ensure that budget constraints do not stall education progress is great. Ohio must have an educated, competent workforce and citizenry to keep pace in a rapidly changing world where progress demands 21st-century skills such as problem-solving, collaboration and creative thinking. And we must step up efforts to reimagine how learning takes place, creating a public school system that is increasingly centered on students and their needs.

While Ohio’s education system has many strengths – enough to boost its ranking in the 2010 Education Week Quality Counts report to fifth in the nation – it still faces many serious challenges.

For example, another recent report ranked Ohio eighth worst in the nation in graduating African-American high school students, and achievement gaps for other disadvantaged groups continue to trouble the state.

What’s more, not enough Ohio students are pursuing science and technology subjects. While these areas are predicted to have some of the country’s highest job growth in the coming years, fewer than half of Ohio high school students take upper-level math courses and just a fifth take upper-level science courses. (Learn more.) Adding to the problems, only 45 percent of Ohio’s public high school graduates entered college in 2002-2006. (Learn more.)

The numbers of students pursuing 21st-century subjects, completing high school and enrolling in college spotlight areas of concern that affect the entire education system. Ohio must make progress in these and other areas despite its budget constraints.

Raising the bar without hurting the bottom line

We are pursuing education improvements that can be realized without worsening the financial crisis, including innovations that can be enacted now and those that should be considered for the long term. It is during this economic crisis that we need to rethink the old ways of doing business that are no longer serving the needs of our students and reimagine how learning should take place. The wide range of approaches we are studying includes:

  • Future of education: How to encourage education practices that will prepare Ohio’s next generations for the global community rich with technology and connections in which they will live and work.
  • Ohio Evidence-Based Model: How to strengthen the school funding reforms enacted by the Ohio legislature as part of House Bill 1 in 2009.