Eliminating more mandated tests good, Clark County school leaders say

Anthony Marshall and his third grade classmates work on their labtop computers in class Friday. Bill Lackey/Staff

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Anthony Marshall and his third grade classmates work on their labtop computers in class Friday. Bill Lackey/Staff

Students in Clark County and across Ohio will see a slight reduction in state testing in the upcoming school year as the state budget bill eliminated the fourth- and sixth-grade state social studies tests, effective immediately.

State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria had recommended a broader change — eliminating one of those social studies tests, plus two high school end-of-course exams, and the WorkKeys test for students hoping to earn a diploma via the industry credential pathway.

RELATED: DeMaria recommends state test changes

Springfield City School District Superintendent Bob Hill said the changes are good ones for local students.

“Essentially it’s giving students more opportunity to demonstrate their proficient other than just a test,” Hill said. “Which I think is always a good thing.”

Clark County Educational Service Center Superintendent Dan Bennett said getting rid of tests is seen as a positive by most school superintendents from local schools.

“The biggest concern from our local schools have been the overwhelming testing requirements that take away that take away so much instruction,” he said.

READ MORE: State school board backs graduation rule changes

DeMaria said Monday morning at the state school board meeting that the Ohio Department of Education will continue talking to the state legislature about more changes, either for the upcoming school year or further in the future.

“The legislature will be back here as soon as September,” DeMaria said. “I think there continues to be an interest in the assessment discussions, so we expect to be advocating for additional modifications and we’ll see how that plays out … It’s a great first step.”

DeMaria was expected to talk to the state school board Monday about preliminary state test scores from the 2016-17 school year, as well as K-12 education provisions in the state budget bill.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich also approved major changes to graduation requirements for the Class of 2018. Kasich signed a state budget that includes alternate pathways to graduation for Class of 2018 students who don’t pass state tests.

Under the plan, modeled off the state school board’s recommendations, students could graduate via good senior-year attendance and grades, or via a senior-year project plus 120 hours of work or community service.

MORE COVERAGE: Clark County districts plummet on state report cards, many get Fs

Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Peggy Lehner said earning required course credits should outweigh test results, especially for this class, which has been through so much change as the state switched the exams it uses multiple times.

“It takes several years for kids to become accustomed to a new test, and for teachers to know how to prepare students for it,” said Lehner, R-Kettering. “You’ll always see kids do worse at the beginning of new tests. … Because graduation is dependent on this, that’s pretty high stakes, so it seems only fair to give these kids in the beginning an opportunity.”

Hill said he believes students in the Springfield City School District will be better prepared for state graduation requirements moving forward if the state keeps the same type of tests.

The district previously requested a waiver from the federal government to stop taking tests and explore different ways to measure student’s preparedness. The waiver was denied.

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