Lawmakers to Learn More About New Tests

The issue that state lawmakers have said was a top priority – toxic algae blooms – got a vote in the Ohio House this week. The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments this week on the state's sex-offender labels amount to cruel and unusual punishment. And a bill designed to shield students from negative results of new state math and English tests is headed toward the governor’s desk.

There’s been a lot of concern, anger and frustration expressed over the Ohio Achievement Assessments or OAAs, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or PARCC tests, and the other tests required by state and local governments. These tests are all coming in the same period as teachers start getting ready for the end of the school year. And lawmakers are learning they want to know more about the tests and the testing process. Republican Sen. Peggy Lehner of Kettering, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, has put together a 28 member committee of teachers, superintendents, testing specialists, education professionals and elected officials to study the issue.

School funding is a top priority in the state budget, as it always is. It’s just behind Medicaid spending as the biggest chunk of the state budget. But this year’s budget has some changes to the school funding formula that are proving to be pretty controversial. For years, governors have tinkered with the school funding formula in an effort to maximize tax dollars spent on education and to try to resolve the puzzle that had the Ohio Supreme Court ruling four times that the state’s way of paying for public education is unconstitutional, because it relied too heavily on local property taxes. Some of Gov. John Kasich’s fellow Republican colleagues in the legislature don’t like his proposed school funding plan – largely because it does mean cuts to schools in their districts. To try to sort through what’s happened in school funding in the past leading up to now, two experts talk about the topic. Dr. Howard Fleeter is an economist and a longtime researcher on school funding, and is now a consultant with the Education Tax Policy Institute. Stephen Dyer is a former reporter and state representative who’s now the Education Policy Fellow the progressive leaning think tank Innovation Ohio.

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