Straight A: An update on Ohio’s innovation funds

Our team regularly is asked “What’s up with Straight A?” So here is the scoop.

Ohio’s Straight A Fund Governing Board met this week and state officials provided insight on both the state budgeting process and the plan for Straight A Rounds 5 and 6 (if the legislature approves Straight A funding in the coming biennial budget).

House reduces proposed Straight A allocation to $5 million per year

Dr. Susan Zelman, who directs the Straight A program for the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), told governing board members that the Ohio House of Representatives reduced the proposed Straight A budget from $15 million per year in FY18 and FY19 (as proposed by Governor Kasich) to $5 million per year due to statewide budget constraints. ODE staff have been invited by Rep. Andy Brenner, a Straight A board member and chairperson of the House Education and Career Readiness Committee, to speak to his committee at the end of May.

Staff members plan to highlight Straight A’s impact on student achievement across the state, and they hope to have similar conversations in the Senate. It is important to note, that while the House version of the budget (House Bill 49) proposes a significant reduction to Straight A funds, it is still early in the process. The Senate could re-instate the Governor’s proposed funding, increase or decrease funding, or possibly remove it altogether. Once the Senate votes, negotiations between the House and Senate will iron out any differences in the two budget bills. Based on past practice, the Senate will finish in late May and Conference Committee will meet in early June. By law, the entire budget process must be complete by June 30 in time for the new fiscal year to begin July 1.

Board Considering 2 Buckets: Innovation and Replication

The Straight A Governing Board has been having some intriguing discussion, likely to result in changes to both process and priorities. ODE staff is recommending increasing award periods from one year to two years, to increase planning time for projects. This would shift the timeline from a single year implementation followed by five years of sustainability requirements to a new timeline including one year of planning, one year of implementation and four years of sustainability. EnvisionEdPlus wholeheartedly supports this idea.

In addition, we anticipate the next cycle of grants to have two buckets of funding – innovation (new grants – novel approaches, not previously funded) and replication (scaling proven practices from previous rounds). Dr. Peggy Sorenson from the Straight A team said this could be achieved through a cycle similar to the chart below:

While details regarding the new replication grant process are still in the developmental stage, our team is excited about supporting both new innovations and replication of proven strategies.

How Do We Best Position Our Ideas for the Next Straight A Cycle?

EnvisionEdPlus has been working with schools, districts, ESCs and higher ed partners since Round 1, and we are proud to say that our partners have been awarded nearly half of all Straight A funds to date. We recommend the following strategies to position your idea for success. In fact, these strategies are relevant to any initiative, whether potential funding sources are local, state, federal or foundation investments.

Start Planning NOW

Our most successful projects are those which began planning months in advance. Our team is already hard at work in several communities identifying needs, crafting ideas and thinking about cost savings/ long term sustainability. Dr. Zelman’s blog Innovation Starts with the Problem is a great resource to help you get started by identifying your challenges.

Don’t Reinvent The Wheel

Look at the Straight A website and find out what has already been funded. The Straight A Board doesn’t want to invest in “more of the same.” If your idea has been funded in previous rounds, consider partnering with those grantees to replicate their work in your school.

Transformational Change

The Straight A Board was clear they want to fund NEW ideas. For example, 1-1 initiatives like Chromebook/iPad deployment are no longer viewed as innovations, but as strategies to bring technology to classroom. In the next cycles, capital outlay and equipment funds will likely be limited to projects that clearly demonstrate novel use of equipment/space essential to drive transformational changes in student achievement.

Not sure where to start? Consider attending our summer Design Lab. On June 13 -14, we are partnering with the Mahoning County Educational Service Center to bring Straight A grantees and other innovators together to share their stories, spark new ideas and create implementation plans. This is a great opportunity for any team to network with like-minded folks and begin planning their next innovation.

Registration is happening now.

Our Courses

Image Course Description Price Created On Last Updated On categories_ID
Supporting Families (Level 1) Consider the differences between engaging and supporting eight types of parents or family members you might encounter. Reflect on your past experiences with each of those types. Create and implement an action plan to improve your support for families who need it. 0.00 2020/07/17 2022/03/24 6
STEAMing Up Literacy (Level 1) The content in this course is designed to begin your understanding of STEAM integration (design thinking) and apply this knowledge to your own classroom. You will have the opportunity to implement a mini lesson and receive feedback about your lesson. Two “office hours” will be available to chat with the instructor and others enrolled in this course. 0.00 2021/01/09 2022/03/24 5
Trauma Brain (Level 1) The brain is constantly changing and molding in response to the environment. These changes impact student learning. This is especially true in terms of trauma. This training is designed to help participants learn what goes on in the brain and how they can set up a learning environment for each of the students in their class. 0.00 2021/01/30 2022/03/24 4
STEAMing Up Literacy (Level 2) The content in this course is designed to begin your understanding of Problem Based Learning(PBL) and apply this knowledge to your own classroom. You will have the opportunity to implement a mini lesson and receive feedback about your lesson. 0.00 2021/02/23 2022/03/24 5
High Quality Literacy Instruction (Level 1 & 2) Core content includes an overview of Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement, evidence-based literacy practices, and resources and tools for literacy instruction. Participants will create, implement and improve two classroom-based literacy strategies (in-person, blended or remote). 0.00 2021/02/23 2022/03/24 5
Supporting Families (Level 2) In Engaging Families Through Support - Level 1, you learned about eight types of parents/caregivers and reflected on your past experiences with each type, culminating in a plan to better engage specific types as partners in their children's education. During this 8-hour asynchronous course you will delve deeper in your understanding of the eight types of parents/caregivers by speaking with individual family members you work with, discovering what they need from you and your program, and implementing an action plan informed by the actual families you serve. Doing so will give you sustainable skills and strategies to build stronger family engagement year after year. 0.00 2021/03/07 2022/03/30 6
Differentiated & Engaged Instruction (Level 1) Differentiation is effective instruction that is responsive to the learner’s preferences, interests and their readiness. It could be explained as a framework for thinking about your teaching and your student’s learning. This course discusses differentiation as an effective teaching tool. Included are many resources and strategies to help meet the learning needs of each student. Participants will learn through various articles, videos, examples, strategies and resources to adapt lessons to meet the needs of each student in their classrooms. 0.00 2021/03/18 2022/03/24 5
Trauma Brain (Level 2) This course gives an advanced understanding of the brain. including differences between “active” and “relational” based brains, trauma-related behaviors, and strategies to reach and teach trauma-impacted students so that they can re-engage in learning. Participants will learn about the range of thinking that a brain does, explore how students fit into the range of thinking, and discover healthy ways of engaging the full range of thinking. 0.00 2021/05/31 2022/03/24 4
Differentiated & Engaged Instruction (Level 2) This 8-hour, self-paced course is facilitated by Laurie Trotter, an EnvisionEdPlus Instructional Specialist. The course explores advanced differentiation as an effective instructional method that is responsive to the learner’s preferences and interests. Create, implement, and improve a lesson plan to engage all learners. Participants will learn through various articles, videos, examples, strategies, and resources to be able to be proficient in starting to adapt lessons to meet all needs of students in their classroom. Prerequisite: Differentiated and Engaged Instruction (Bronze Badge). 0.00 2021/05/31 2022/03/24 5
Creativity Belongs in the Classroom (Level 1) Encourage lifelong learning, improve focus, reduce anxiety and enhance thinking in your classroom or program. Creativity is a learned and trained process for getting the most out of higher level thinking and problem solving of your students. Learn how to embed creativity easily into your lessons, using strategies that will help unlock your students ability to be innovative thinkers and problem solvers. This course is appropriate for anyone who works with youth and also satisfies the HQPD Gifted competencies of A, B, and D. 0.00 2022/01/14 2022/04/10 5

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