Ohio Department of Education Recommends a Cutback on Testing

It averages 20 hours for all students but third graders and high school sophomores now spend an average of 28 hours a year taking standardized tests. Overall, students average 15 hours a year just practicing for the tests. Spokesman John Charlton says they had been hearing complaints from parents, teachers, and administrators.

“The legislature asked us to look at that and, as the department of education, we also had some concerns about that as well. So we were already in the process of looking at it but this report is basically looking number one identify exactly how much time students are spending on tests in Ohio and answers any ways we can reduce that amount of testing.”

Almost three quarters of the testing time comes from federal requirements tied to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Department of Ed spokesman John Charlton says they will advocate for less testing time to federal officials.
Ohio’s own teacher evaluations have led to more testing and Charlton says they don’t want evaluations to be overly burdensome.

“I think there is some discussion to be had with that on as well and probably some choices to be made on what we’re going to prioritize, whether its students testing or a more robust or detailed teacher evaluation system. I think it might be difficult to have both of those.”

The report recommends that state legislators

-Reduce testing and practice time by 20%, or two percent of the school year and limit the time spent practicing for tests to one percent of the year.
-Eliminating the fall third grade reading test but providing a summer administration of the test for students who need it.
-Eliminating the state’s requirement that districts give math and writing diagnostic tests to students in first through third grade.
-Eliminating the use of student learning objectives as part of the teacher evaluation system for teachers in grades Pre-K through 3 and for teachers teaching in non-core subject areas in grades 4 through 12.

The state’s largest teachers union, The Ohio Education Association issued a statement welcoming the recommendations. Union president Becky Higgins wrote:

“The challenge of reducing the number of tests being administered to students in Ohio extends beyond the state and local level. Federal lawmakers also have a role to play. As Congress begins its consideration of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), we urge members of the House and Senate to recognize that less mandated testing frees up time and resources, creates less pressure to ‘teach to the test,’ and allows educators to focus on what is most important - instilling a love of learning in their students.”

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