Understanding the Operating Standards

The State Board of Education revised Operating Standards for Ohio Schools again in January 2006 as part of a scheduled five year review of the standards. This time the rules were only slightly changed to conform with current state and federal laws. For example, under the topic, “Purpose and Definitions” the terms adequate yearly progress, performance index score, continuous improvement plan, strategic plan, and value added progress dimension were added.


How Do Operating Standards Support Arts Education?

The following is an overview of the 2006 Operating Standards for Ohio Schools that highlights some of the rules that support arts education programs in Ohio’s schools. The full Operating Standards are available online.


1) Rule 3301-35-04 B Stakeholder Input: “The school district or school shall implement a comprehensive district-wide curriculum and instructional program that is characterized by systematic planning, articulation, and evaluation. The school district’s curriculum shall be developed with input from and dialogue with parents, community members, and other stakeholders.”

Impact: This rule clearly states that school districts shall have 1) a comprehensive curriculum and instructional program, and 2) stakeholders shall be involved in the development of a districtwide curriculum. If a school district revises or changes its curriculum in music, history, mathematics, or whatever.... stakeholders need to be involved in that process.

Who are stakeholders??? According to the definitions included in the rule, “Stakeholder means those who directly affect or are affected by the educational success of a school district and school. Stakeholders may include, but are not limited to, colleges and universities, school district and school staff, employers, parents, students, and other individuals or groups in the community.”


2) Rule 3301-35-04B1 Fine Arts, including Music: “Pursuant to sections 3301.07 and 3313.60 of the Revised Code, any such curriculum shall include study of.....(h) The fine arts, including music...”

Impact: The study of the fine arts, including music, is required by the Ohio Revised Code and Operating Standards. The fine arts are not defined, but practice at the state and national levels supports the arts being defined as dance, drama/theatre, music, and visual arts.


3) Rule 3301-35-04 5a Course of Study: “A course of study shall be adopted for each subject taught. Each course of study shall.....(iii) Specify learning and performance expectations; (iv) Establish a scope and sequence of knowledge and skills to be learned; (v) Provide a way to assess student progress and the need for intervention; (vii) Be guided by Ohio’s state-adopted academic content standards.”

Impact: The course of study outlines the performance expectations for students at each grade level through its scope and sequence. This means that school districts need to have a welldefined course of study to support a high quality arts education program. This is an important rule to remember when school districts are facing tight budgets and are cutting back on arts education programs at certain grade levels.

This rule also states that the course of study for the arts shall be guided by Ohio’s Academic Content Standards for Fine Arts. This is one of the revisions that the State Board has made in the 2006 Operating Standards. The 2000 Operating Standards stated that, “ of study be guided by model curriculum programs, or other curricular models, and objectives assessed by the state proficiency tests.” This part of the rule has been changed to state that courses of study should be guided by Ohio’s state-adopted academic content standards.


4) Rule 3301-35-04 C Opportunity to Learn: “The school district or school shall provide every student with opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills..... required to (1) Meet local course of study objectives; (2) Receive a diploma, (3) Receive credits for graduation.”

Impact: This rule and Rule 3301-35-06 (see number 8 below) address the frequently asked question about how much time should be allocated for instruction in the arts in a school district at the elementary and middle school levels. The 1983 Operating Standards included minutes of instruction per week for arts education and physical education, but the minutes were eliminated in the 2000 Operating Standards. In fact minutes of instruction are not required for any subject at the elementary/middle school levels. The rules have not changed regarding the number of hours of instruction that students need to have to receive course credits for graduation from high school, which is 120 hours of instruction per credit.

So how much time should students spend learning the arts? Think about it this way. The Operating Standards say that the amount of time needed for instruction in the arts is tied to how much time it takes for students to learn the knowledge and skills required to meet the learning and performance expectations for the courses in the arts, which are outlined in the courses of study. Once again, well-defined courses of study for dance, drama/theatre, music, and visual arts are very important, because they will drive instruction.


5) Rule 3301-35-04E Assessment: “School districts shall provide for an assessment system that aligns with their courses of study and includes....regular assessment of student performance, multiple and appropriate assessments, ongoing professional staff development that teaches accepted standards of practice in the selection, administration, interpretation, and use of assessments.”

Impact: Arts education is included in the assessment system of a school district, and teachers of the arts are included in the requirement for professional development.


6) Rule 3301-35-04 C3b Graduation Requirements: “...[T]he requirements for graduation from every high school shall include 20 units....and shall be distributed as follows....Elective units, six units. Each student’s electives shall include at least one unit, or two half-units, chosen from among the areas of business/technology, fine arts, and/or foreign languages.”

Impact: This rule and the rule for the honors diploma (OAC 3301-13-07) ensure that the fine arts are included in a comprehensive high school curriculum in Ohio’s high schools.


7) Rule 3301-35-05 (4) Educational Service Personnel: “A minimum of five full-time equivalent educational service personnel shall be employed districtwide for each one thousand students in the regular student population as defined in section 3317.023 of the Ohio Revised Code. Educational service personnel shall be assigned to at least five of the eight following areas: counselor, library media specialist, school nurse, visiting teacher, social worker and elementary art, music and physical education. Education service personnel assigned to elementary art, music and physical education shall hold the special teaching certificate or multi-age license in the subject to which they are assigned.”

Impact: This is one of the more controversial rules in Operating Standards, because it categorizes teachers of the fine arts as “educational service personnel.” This rule is also tied to Section 3317.023 of the Ohio Revised Code, which outlines the components of Ohio’s school funding program and the calculations that are used to determine the amount of state aid school districts receive through the school foundation program. Section 3317.023 (D) of the Ohio Revised Code requires the state to calculate the number of educational service personnel, and award or deduct funds to school districts through the school funding formula, based whether or not the school district meets the five to 1000 ratio of educational service personnel to students in a school district.


8) Rule 3301-35-06 (A) Educational Programs and Support: “Educational programs and experiences shall be designed and implemented to provide a general education of high quality for all students. Students shall be provided sufficient time and opportunity to achieve local school district performance requirements and objectives measured by required state achievement proficiency tests. Instruction shall include intervention that is designed to meet student needs.”

Impact: This rule and Rule 3301-35-04 C - Opportunity to Learn (see number 4 above), both address the issue of how much time should be allocated for instruction in the arts in a school district. This rule clearly states that “sufficient time and opportunity” shall be provided for students to “...achieve local school district performance requirements...” Once again, the amount of time needed for instruction in the arts (at the elementary and middle school levels) is tied to how much time it takes for students to learn the knowledge and skills required to meet the learning and performance expectations outlined in the courses of study for the arts.


9) Rule 3301-35-11 (C) Procedures for Evaluation and Intervention: “Failure to comply with applicable rules in this Chapter and rule 3301-56-01 of the Administrative Code shall be cause for initiating efforts to revoke the school district's charter in accordance with section 3301.16 of the Revised Code and Chapter 119 of the Revised Code. The department of education may investigate allegations of noncompliance with the rules in this chapter as it deems necessary.”

Impact: The Ohio Department of Education’s Center for School Improvement receives many calls each year from teachers, parents, administrators, and members of the community, who have questions about Operating Standards and whether or not school districts are complying with Operating Standards. The ODE will investigate questions that are submitted in writing to the Center for School Improvement. A school district could lose its state charter to operate if it is found not to be in compliance with Operating Standards by the State Board of Education. However, this has never happened. Most of the time school districts work with the ODE and stakeholders to resolve issues and stay in compliance with Operating Standards. 


Source: Joan Platz, Information and Research Director, OAAE, 2006