In a surprise move, Ohio’s State Board of Education today tapped Interim Superintendent Stan Heffner as the state’s new schools chief. Heffner never actually applied for the job when it opened up last spring and instead announced he’d be leaving Ohio in August for a job with ETS. But at this morning’s meeting, with their other top candidates seemingly dropping like flies, the board voted to offer him an interview.
While Heffner’s appointment may be a surprise, it isn’t a disappointment. He has experience at the local and state levels in Ohio (and in other states). Having served as associate superintendent of curriculum and assessment since 2004, he knows the Ohio Department of Education and its staff and operations well and is better-poised than perhaps any of the other candidates to hit the ground running when it comes to implementing the slew of important and tight-timelined new education policies passed in the state budget bill last month.
And speaking as someone who doesn’t want to see academic accountability rolled back in the Buckeye State, I think he is an outstanding choice. He appreciates the value of having robust, accessible data about public schools and knows the importance of assessments and accountability in improving K-12 education. His work as Associate Superintendent helped make Ohio an early leader in the use of value-added data and other accountability metrics, and there is no reason to think he won’t make Ohio a leader in other reform areas now as state superintendent.