This week's blog post focuses on three tidbits of educational news involving Ohio’s truancy laws, the new reading tests required for some teaching licenses, and a policy brief on the educational use of technology for young children.
Senate education committee to focus on truancy
Hannah News has reported that Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering), Chair of the Senate Education Committee, announced that the committee’s focus during the lame duck session will be pending legislation to revise the state’s truancy laws. She plans to hold multiple hearings on HB410, which addresses numerous elements of school discipline, in hopes to get consensus on the bill before the session ends.
Sen. Lehner said she knows some provisions in the bill may not make it into law, including her proposed ban on suspensions and expulsions for elementary school students aged eight and younger. Sen. Lehner noted that school officials are concerned about a lack of effective alternatives to suspensions and expulsions.
However, Sen. Lehner is hopeful that an amendment proposing a tiered disciplinary policy will be in the final act. Tiered discipline would be an alternative to zero-tolerance policies that are now in place.
New teaching licenses require reading tests
Beginning with licenses issued on or after July 1, 2017, candidates for new early childhood, middle childhood and intervention specialist teaching licenses in Ohio will be required to pass a reading test. On Friday, the Department of Education announced that registration for the reading test [Foundations of Reading (Ohio Assessment for Educators 090)] is open. Applicants can take the test beginning December 19, 2016.
The following license types require the test:
- Early and middle childhood education.
- Early childhood intervention specialist.
- Intervention specialists: mild/moderate, moderate/intensive, hearing impaired, visually impaired and gifted.
Potential test takers can review the test framework, study guide and practice test materials now. ODE also has an FAQ page about the new reading test.
Joint policy brief on the use of technology with young learners
Last week, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released a joint policy brief on the use of technology with early learners. The brief, developed in consultation with the American Academy of Pediatrics, is intended to help educators and parents make wise decisions about the use of media for children under the age of eight.
Libby Doggett, deputy assistant secretary for Policy and Early Learning at the Department of Education said, “Technology, when used appropriately with caring adults, can help children learn in new ways – and lessen growing inequity in our county.” She noted that the brief helps parents and early educators to use technology in “developmentally appropriate ways.”
The brief identifies four guiding principles for families and early childhood educators on the use of technology with young children:
- Technology, when used properly, can be a tool for learning.
- Technology should be used to increase access to learning opportunities for all children.
- Technology may be used to strengthen relationships among parents, families, early educators, and young children.
- Technology is more effective for learning when adults and peers interact or co-view with young children.
Department officials stress that, although technology can provide opportunities to connect, create and engage in meaningful learning experiences, families and educators should promote active, imaginative ways to use technology rather than passively watching a screen.