Local Educators Urge State to Reduce Testing


Photo by Rick Yu, Photo editor

A community member addresses the Oberlin School Board Tuesday evening in Langston Middle School. Various Lorain Education Board members urged the state to reduce the number of required standardized tests.

Jack Brewster

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.