Committee recommends reducing state testing requirements

COLUMBUS — Elementary and high school students in Ohio would take fewer tests under new requirements proposed by the state superintendent, but his plan to reduce testing falls short of a special advisory panel’s recommendation.

Ohio Department of Education Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria told the State Board of Education last week that Ohio should eliminate the fourth grade social studies assessment, the high school English language arts 1 end-of-course exam and the high school American government assessment. He also suggested requiring school districts to disclose a full list of all tests and testing hours they require on their own. He further recommended eliminating tests used just to evaluate teachers.

“It’s really the source of a massive amount of assessment that’s not really providing a lot of value,” DeMaria said regarding the teacher evaluation tests.

Ohio currently gives seven more tests than the federal government requires. While DeMaria wants to eliminate three of those seven, he advocates keeping a third grade English test given in the fall, a sixth grade social studies test and high school-level math and American history tests.

The Ohio General Assembly would have to approve the proposed changes to state-mandated testing, according to the ODE.

The Ohio State Board of Education previously formed a 24-member committee to recommend changes in state testing requirements. After meeting several times, the committee proposed the state cut back on excessive student testing requirements and eliminate tests not required by federal law.

Shadyside Local Schools Superintendent John Haswell has said he would like to see a reduction in standardized testing across all grade levels in line with the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act guidelines. Ohio Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, agrees with Haswell.

“We don’t need winners and losers being determined by a test being passed,” Cera said, adding there is bipartisan support in the state House of Representatives to reduce the number of required tests through various legislative options.

The committee took into account career-technical education assessment as well.

“The committee worked long and hard to come up with recommendations on testing that benefit Ohio students. The group, made up of educators from all different areas, were receptive to the ideas/recommendations regarding the career-technical education assessments,” said Ron Matter, superintendent of Penta Career Center and member of the committee. “I think the other committee members learned a lot about what CTE entails and the challenges career-tech educators face — especially in terms of testing.”

The advisory group provided recommendations for ways to streamline local assessments. The group also recommends that the state provide help and training to local districts on the use of assessment audits, develop a comprehensive list of approved assessments for state requirements so districts can see which ones fulfill multiple purposes, and a unified communication plan to explain the details and purposes of state and local assessments.

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