The Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would limit school standardized testing in three ways. The bill has not yet been taken up by the Senate.
House Bill 239 would eliminate one high school “end-of-course exam” by combining the American history and American government tests into a single exam, according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. That change would begin with students in the Class of 2023, who just finished their freshman year.
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The bill also would create a pathway for parents to opt their child out of the statewide junior-year administration of the ACT college entrance exam, starting with the Class of 2022 — students who will be juniors next year.
And the bill would prohibit schools from holding 2020-21 third-graders back a year if they don’t achieve the promotion score on the state’s third-grade reading test, according to the LSC.
“We want our children to be educated, retain knowledge and be able to apply the principles,” said state Rep. Erica Crawley, D-Columbus, one of the sponsors of the bill. “However, the amount of testing currently required has really taken away from the intent of educating.”
The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, also requires the Ohio Department of Education to publish an annual report on the amount of time students spent on testing required by the state or individual schools.
The pendulum on testing has swung back and forth in recent years. Earlier this decade, in an attempt to increase students’ academic performance, Ohio and other states moved to a new set of education standards and harder, longer state tests to go with them.
But there was a near immediate backlash to those PARCC tests, largely because of the significant increase in testing time for students. As a result, Ohio created its own more limited state testing system, referred to simply as Ohio’s State Tests.
House Bill 239 would get Ohio even closer to the minimum level of state testing that is required by federal law. There continues to be debate over how much locally driven diagnostic testing is also done.
“By reducing the number of tests students are required to take, this legislation supports teachers and students,” Crawley said. “Teachers can be more creative in their approach to teaching and re-engage their students in the learning process.”
House Bill 239 also would require each school or district to form a work group to examine the amount of time students spend on district-required testing. That work group would have to submit a report of its findings and any recommendations to the school or district board.
Under HB 239, after considering recommendations from that work group, a school could exceed the time limitations that students may spend on state testing through an annual resolution.
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