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Why this Week is Really Important for Ohio Schools

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Monday, April 23, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Winton Woods School District

Elementary and middle school students across Ohio start taking the Ohio Achievement Tests this week, the month after high schoolers took the Ohio Graduation Tests.

It's not called high-stakes testing for nothing. The consequences of how students perform in the coming weeks are real, for adults as much as students.

Here's why:

  • Ratings: The state test results are the major factor in determining each school's and district's state rating. An A or A+ means proud parents, community members and real estate agents, plus another $17 per student from the state. Lower grades can put intense pressure on school staff and leaders and open up school districts to voucher programs and charter schools.

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  • Rankings: The test results determine where schools and districts rank in comparison to others on the state-mandated rankings. Being on top, again, comes with kudos. A bottom ranking comes with many of the same consequences as a bottom rating of D or F.
  • Charters:  Charter schools that get Fs for two out of three years must close. And new charter schools can start up in school districts with D or F ratings or ranked in the bottom 5 percent of districts based on test scores.
  • Teachers: State tests are part of Ohio's new teacher evaluation system. Starting in the 2013, at least half of each teacher's evaluation must be based on student performance. For reading and math teachers in grades 3-8 and science teachers in grades 5 and 8, that means looking at a statistical measure called "value-added," which is based on student performance on state tests.

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