Reps press for waiver on school assessment tests

Larry Limpf

Two state lawmakers have repeated their call for Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Education to seek a federal waiver to cancel state assessment testing for the 2020-21 school year.
Representatives Jeffrey Crossman, D-Parma, and Lisa Sobecki, D-Toledo, last month introduced House Bill 686, which awaits a hearing before the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee.
If passed, the bill would exempt all public and chartered nonpublic schools from administering the state achievement assessments for the 2020-21 school year.
The bill also prohibits the department of education from publishing and issuing ratings for overall grades, components, and individual measures on the state report cards and submitting preliminary data for report cards for school districts and buildings for the school year.
“On day one, our schools, teachers and students are going to start preparing for the end of year assessments instead of focusing on learning and shoring up on knowledge students learned during this past spring,” Rep. Sobecki said last week. “Our classrooms need to be focused on learning, not high-stake testing. Ohio shouldn’t wait any longer. We should request the federal waiver now.”
Rep. Crossman said he was disappointed “so many people have chosen to sit on this issue, rather than take proactive action to ensure the best learning environment for the coming school year. Everyone already has enough on their plate to worry about without having this issue to contend with.”
During a call with the governor’s staff at the end of June, the representatives noted that the Georgia Department of Education announced its intention to seek a waiver. Georgia recently announced that it has officially filed the waiver.
When Sobecki and Crossman introduced the bill, they said there was too much uncertainty about the upcoming school year to subject schools to assessment testing.
“The reality of the situation is that we still do not have a clear picture of what schools will look like for the upcoming year, but we do know it is not fair to subject students across the state to an onslaught of mandated testing as teachers and students juggle differing educational scenarios caused by COVID-19,” said Rep. Sobecki. “Our bill is prudent in that it waives state testing for this year and allows students to focus on learning during this pandemic without added pressure of mandating testing.”


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