Giving teachers more control


The debate and discussion of Ohio’s use of the Common Core state standards and, more specifically, PARCC testing has been a major point of emphasis throughout the first six months of this legislative term. Both at the Statehouse and in the many House districts across the state, we have heard the concerns from parents, teachers, students and administrators about the effects the testing has had on classroom time and our kids’ ability to learn.

In order to find the right solutions to provide for the very best educational outcomes for our state’s young people, we need to listen to the people who are closest to the situation, such as parents and teachers. We have taken these concerns very seriously and have taken important steps to alleviate the burden that some of this testing has had on teachers and students.

Earlier this year, the House passed legislation that provided additional protections for students that were taking new state assessments during this past school year. The new assessments, under the areas of English and math, were supplied by PARCC. Specifically, House Bill 7 prohibited schools from using those test scores when determining whether a student should advance to the next grade level.

At the time, this legislation was an important and responsible step toward allowing us to fully understand the impact that this testing had on our schools. Earlier this week, I was happy to see another, more aggressive, step taken in the area of education when Governor Kasich signed into law the state operating budget.

That legislation, Am. Sub House Bill 64, discontinued altogether Ohio’s involvement with the use of PARCC testing in the areas of math and English. As I mentioned earlier, the many voices that stood up and shared their views, concerns and suggestions were very important in our approach to do away with the testing.

Some of those concerns included the many technological glitches that some schools had in implementing the online tests, as well as the reality of chewing up too much instructional time in the classroom. The budget bill prohibits the state from using these particular tests and calls for the Department of Education to immediately begin looking for a new test provider. In fact, ODE announced this week that they would be contracting with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to provide mathematics and English/language arts assessments for the 2015-2016 school year.

Of course, there must be ways for students to be measured based on their progress and educational acumen, but that process must not imperil the ability of teachers to actually instruct young minds. Like we so often hear, we do not want teachers simply “teaching to the test,” because doing so takes away the energy and creativity of so many great educators across Ohio.

I believe the steps taken by the legislature and the governor already this year show that we state lawmakers are serious about this issue and are committed to finding a successful solution.

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