New bill would change school tests, standards

Ohio’s House Education Committee on Tuesday approved a bill requiring the state to revise its school standards in English language arts, math, science and social studies. House Bill 74 also would require Ohio to seek new, shorter state exams, and would forbid the current multistate test providers — PARCC and AIR — from applying.

The new learning standards and tests just went into effect this year, after four years of school preparation. But pushback against the learning standards, and strong public opposition to the new, longer tests have led to a vigorous debate.

House Bill 74 will go to the full House membership soon. On the other side of the legislature, Senate Education Committee Chair Peggy Lehner has an advisory committee already studying potential changes to state testing.

The new standards and tests are harder than Ohio’s previous version. State Rep. Mike Henne, a member of the House education committee, said with 40 percent of Ohio students needing remediation in college in recent years, there’s clearly a need for educational improvement. But he said there’s also broad dissatisfaction with the new tests.

“I believe this bill will make it out of House, and I know the Senate is working on something similar,” said Henne, R-Clayton. “I doubt the Senate is going to eliminate PARCC. But I do think something will pass. It will probably be a mixture of the two (bills).”

Earlier this school year, numerous educators complained that frequent changes from the state hinder their ability to focus on learning. This year, Ohio changed school standards, tests, online testing, graduation requirements, length of the school year, report card measures and teacher evaluations.

Henne said legislators are trying to create rules that offer flexibility for the best school districts and accountability for those that need it.

“Change is hard, and anytime you make change, people resist,” he said. “I believe that we have to make some changes.”

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