Clark and Champaign County education leaders said they welcome a proposed reduction in state testing at both the state and school level.
Ohio State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria has called for three state tests to be eliminated — fourth-grade social studies, high school English I and high school American government — as well as eliminating the WorkKeys test for students hoping to earn a diploma via the industry credential pathway.
No vote was taken at a state school board meeting this week, but the recommendation by the leader of the Ohio Department of Education is a step in the right direction, Springfield City School District Superintendent Bob Hill and Graham Local Schools Superintendent Kirk Koennecke both said.
Previously the state had raised the stakes even higher when it comes to state testing. High school students must score well on the state tests or risk not graduating. Springfield school leaders have voiced concerns about many of their students not clinching enough points to pass — despite getting good enough grades in school. The previous changes could result in more than half of the district’s seniors not graduating in the future.
Statewide testing cannot determine how well a district teaches its students, Hill has said repeatedly, and getting rid of some of the testing is a good thing.
“Overall, I agree that any reduction in the amount of testing required by the state is beneficial for our students,” Hill said.
Springfield has been hit hard by state testing in the past, recording numerous failing grades. Hill, other district leaders and many on the local board of education, have continually said they don’t believe poor grades on state testing reflect the quality of education provided at Springfield City Schools.
“I also understand the concern with the natural connection that a reduction in testing will somehow cause a lesser quality education,” he said. “However, the concern of most educators is that the current testing system does not inform instruction and it does not provide educators with timely and meaningful data to address student needs.
“With that said, the current testing system is flawed and it simply becomes a compliance measure for school districts. Personally, I find it difficult to understand how a student, a teacher, or a school district can be judged on a single test that provides nothing more than a snapshot in time,” Hill said.
Koennecke said he hopes the recommendation by the state superintendent is the beginning of continued change.
“I was thrilled to see it,” he said. “We have a state superintendent who is finally listening to school districts. He has gone around and done a lot of listening and is trying to make thoughtful recommendations.”
The tests that might be axed soon are tests that are redundant, Koennecke said, and he hopes that similar tests students have to take also get cut.
Hill said he hopes the state will continue to look into how to better judge a school.
“Until the state can develop a system that provides timely and meaningful data to educators, we are simply stuck in a system of compliance, but we welcome any and all reductions as associated with the current system of testing,” he said.
By the Numbers:
97.2 percent: Springfield High School students who scored limited or basic on the physical science state test.
79.9 percent: Springfield High School students who scored limited or basic on the geometry state test.
75 percent: Springfield High School students who scored limited or basic on the English II state test.
The Springfield News-Sun has dug into report cards of each school district in the county and also have published extensive articles on how state testing may deny thousands of local students their diplomas.