Local Educators Urge State to Reduce Testing
As the Ohio Department of Education inches toward approving an education plan to comply with federal regulations, local teachers, parents and school board members are imploring the administration to amend the proposal. The regulations are part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, a federal ruling signed by former President Barack Obama in 2015 that outlines policies and standardized testing requirements for schools.
The ODE released its preliminary draft Feb. 2 to allow the public time to provide feedback before implementing the testing plan. Since then, the ODE’s proposal has been met with a flurry of criticism by school administrators with concerns regarding the number of required standardized tests, among other items.
“Our biggest concern is around standard testing and the state tests,” said Lorain County Education Superintendent Greg Ring. “It’s having an impact on how many students are in line to graduate, particularly at the high school level.”
Under the current plan and proposal, Ohio students are required to take 24 standardized tests from grades 3–12, significantly more than the federal minimum requirement of 17. Consequently, many of the Lorain County School Board members believe the high number of tests negatively impacts students.
Ring said LCE would like to see the number of required tests decrease to the federal minimum and was upset that the ODE ignored their complaints.
“Ohio does a lot more testing than is required by federal administration, and we thought this would be a great opportunity for [the] ODE to come out with a plan that might scale back some of that,” Ring said. “This was an opportunity for [the] ODE to pull back, and they didn’t. We’re concerned about that and have proposed an alternative that would scale back the tests.”
Oberlin City Schools Superintendent David Hall said he would also like to see the required number of tests decrease under the new plan. While he said he favors ensuring that schools are accountable in conducting standardized testing, he believes the individual schools should control the number of tests they administer based on specific needs.
“We want accountability, but we also want it fair and equitable at the same time,” Hall said. “Each school district is different — economically, socially, academically — and we need to take that into consideration.”
Ring, Assistant Superintendent for Oberlin City Schools John Monteleone and several other school administrators recently collaborated on a proposal to send to the ODE specifying what they would like to see changed in the proposal. Hall, though not listed as one of the contributors in the abstract, said he was involved in the process and approves of the requests. Along with reducing the number of standardized tests, the document calls for the ODE to make the state’s school performance evaluation system less complicated, decrease the reliance on standardized test scores required for students to graduate and allow for more collaboration between teachers, administrators, board members, citizens and the ODE.
Ring said he has yet to hear a response from the ODE regarding the proposal.
According to The Chronicle-Telegram, Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria said the ODE has been listening to feedback and that the proposal is a product of contributions from more than 15,000 Ohio school administrators, teachers and community members.
“We’ve already received many comments from Ohio’s educators, parents and community members on the draft overview,” DeMaria told The Chronicle-Telegram. “With everyone’s continued engagement, we’ll make significant strides in improving opportunities and outcomes for the students in our state.”
The ODE will continue to hear feedback on the plan until March 6. Until then, school administrators and the public will continue to pressure DeMaria and the ODE. But Ring said he ultimately is unsure if the ODE will listen to the criticism and adjust accordingly.
“We hope so,” Ring said, regarding their hopes for the ODE to accept their requests. “We know that the more of a shout there is from the public — not from superintendents per se or the educational community — but if the broader citizenry picks up on some of these things and makes those calls to those state board members, that will be impactful.