Most of Ohio’s K-12 students take state reading and math tests each spring from third to eighth grade, science tests in fifth and eighth grade, and seven end-of-course exams at various times across their high school years. Of those 21 tests, 17 are federally mandated.
“In any other school year, under normal circumstances, I would not be here asking to waive testing requirements,” Koehler said. “However, this year is not like any other school year we have seen. When (the last) students return to school in March, schools need to concentrate on teaching material rather than testing.”
State tests were canceled in spring 2020, as the federal government issued waivers and Gov. Mike DeWine shuttered school buildings in mid-March, moving all students to remote learning as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
In 2020-21, some students have been physically attending school five days a week all year, while others have been learning from their homes for 11 months straight, and a third group has been doing a “hybrid” mix of in-person and online learning.
Preliminary results from two state tests that were administered in the fall (kindergarten readiness and third-grade reading) showed that overall scores “are notably lower than past years,” especially for Black and low-income students. Decreases were worse in schools that had remained fully remote.
Some education groups have said schools already know where students stand based on the diagnostic tests they use regularly. They argue it would be better to spend the time working with students based on those diagnostics rather than spending days and weeks administering more tests whose results are not available until summer.
“Our teachers and school staff have been flexible during these turbulent times and need our support now more than ever,” Bird said. “Ohio students’ time will be much better spent learning as opposed to preparing for these assessments.”