School deregulation bill gets dozen amendments, but no vote

Wednesday’s expected Ohio House vote on a bill supporters claim will reduce red-tape for local schools did not happen, as the House session was canceled amid Republicans’ continuing struggle to choose a new Speaker of the House.

The House Education Committee did meet Wednesday morning and added a dozen amendments to the bill, but did not yet vote to send it to the full Ohio House.

Senate Bill 216 is meant to eliminate some regulations governing Ohio’s schools, and give districts more flexibility in how they operate.

One amendment affects state testing. Instead of allowing schools to do any mix of paper and online for testing in grades 3, 4 and 5 - as the bill originally suggested - the amendment would allow schools to offer third-grade testing totally on paper (not a mix) if the school board passes a resolution.

RELATED: Bullet-point details of school deregulation bill

Another amendment would require more detailed test-score reporting for subgroups of students based on race, economics, special education status and more. The bill originally said schools with fewer than 30 students in a given category would not have that data on their report card. But some analysts suggested that could lead schools to ignore those groups, so the amendment puts the standard for reporting achievement and progress data back at the original 10-student threshold.

The amendments included several changes to teacher licensure — exempting certain teaching fields from the new “grade-band” rules, expanding a “supplemental license” procedure for teachers outside their licensed grade or subject area, plus tweaks to substitute, career tech and early college teaching rules.

RELATED: State board, proposed law seek changes to school report card

And the amendments push the effective dates of several provisions back to 2019-20, rather than 2018-19 — information requirements for test vendors, district reading improvement plans, teacher evaluation changes, and College Credit Plus textbook changes.

It is unclear when the House will address the bill, which has already been approved by the Senate. House Education Committee Chair Andrew Brenner had said on Tuesday that the bill needed to move quickly if there was any chance of passing it before the legislature leaves for its summer/fall break.

Brenner’s office said the House Education Committee on Wednesday also discussed amendments to House Bill 591, to revise the school report card system, but did not vote on the amendments or the bill itself.

RELATED: Senator: Ohio’s softer graduation rules not likely to be extended

About the Author