Ohio Superintendents Speak Out Against Testing

Did you know that Centerville City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Tom Henderson, is part of a group called the Alliance for High Quality Schools. It is made up of 65 Districts from Cincinnati,Columbus, Toledo, and Cleveland and they make recommendations to the state regarding assessments and test reduction.

Please remember that the local district and educators are not the enemy in this fight, rather it’s the state and federal legislators and corporate education reformers implementing ridiculous mandates that leave local districts looking like the bad guys. Most local educators agree the testing is flawed and are already working to affect change. Please contact them to find out how you can assist them in affecting change on the state level.

 

The following is one of several open letters popping up on social media from Ohio Superintendents.

School districts across the State of Ohio are working hard to assure that all of our students are prepared to do their very best on the upcoming assessments. Here in West Clermont, our staff has been hard at work refining the new standards, planning appropriate instruction, delivering high quality and engaging activities and yes, taking snapshots of how your sons and daughters are progressing.

The State of Ohio has made a significant commitment to these new state tests that are intended to serve as an accountability mechanism for schools. As a result, districts across the state have invested significant time and resources to this process including retooling our entire curriculum. West Clermont is no different. That being said, in W.C. classrooms we already use diagnostic tools to regularly monitor student progress. We believe diagnostic assessments show what skills and knowledge a student has acquired and what a student has yet to learn in more of a real-time way. This information is incredibly valuable to our teachers as they plan their instruction and work with their students both in large and small group settings. Our assessments help INFORM instruction and, in the end, IMPROVE student achievement long term. The big difference is having tools that help us diagnose learning instead of seeing how our students did well after the student has moved on to the next grade level. While I appreciate the recent attention and move to reduce the amount of time spent testing, this reduction needs to focus on the high-stakes State tests and not the diagnostic assessments that will actually improve daily instruction in classrooms.

I will continue to voice my deep concern with high stakes testing and to the stress that it places on our students and staff. In the meantime, you may be asking what, as a parent, can I do? Like it or not, the system is set up so that students who opt out of taking the state tests are recorded as a “zero” for that child’s teacher, school and our district. Opting out will impact a teacher’s final performance rating for the year and can cause buildings and/or the district being forced to implement bureaucratic improvement strategies over multiple years. If you have a third grader who does not take the test, he/she may be retained in third grade. Further, if you have a high school student, he/she may not be able to graduate on time without having taken, and passed, the appropriate tests. Specific details about this can be found on the Ohio Department of Education’s website: http://education.ohio.gov/…/Guidance-on-Student-Participati…

It would, however, be appropriate for parents and staff to work within the system to affect change. As a resident of this area, you have the right to contact your *representatives to express your frustration with the amount of high-stakes testing your child is experiencing in school. Whether your child is experiencing this stress or not, I would encourage you to write, email or call your representatives to express your thoughts about what is going on. I have included their contact information below for your use.

Since the start of this school year, I have been actively engaged with superintendents across the region and state to advocate for your kids. I intend to continue that work as we attempt to bring common sense back to education in Ohio. Here is what I believe:

• When used for appropriate purposes, diagnostic assessments help improve student performance.

• Our students and teachers are beyond the breaking point as a result of the over emphasis on high stakes tests and accountability measures.

• There is too much testing and it takes far too much time away from teaching and learning.

• State tests, as they currently stand, are being used for different purposes than they were designed.

• Local assessments, when used appropriate, help inform and shape instruction so that all students achieve.

• We need to return local control of our schools to our communities.

Through advocating for our kids, I will continue to push for the following:

• No more than one state test per grade, per year.

• Eliminate the state requirement for excessive hours of readiness testing for incoming Kindergartners – we can do this work ourselves AND be ready for instruction on the first day of school.

• Eliminate the Third Grade Reading Guarantee that is used to label students as off track for promotion to the fourth grade – 98% of West Clermont third graders passed last year.

• Recommend assessing reading at grades 3 and 6, math at grades 4 and 7, science at grade 5, social studies at grade 8. High School students can be assessed taking a normed ACT for assessment of English, mathematics, reading, science, and writing.

In West Clermont, we will continue to focus on growing ALL our students to their full potential. That includes using assessments appropriately to enhance what our teachers do in the classroom each day. That should be the focus as we work to improve achievement for all.

As always, if you have questions about what is taking place in your schools, do not hesitate to talk with your building principal or call the District Office. We are here to work with you in order to provide your children the best experience possible.

Sincerely,

Dr. Keith Kline, Superintendent
West Clermont Local School District
4350 Aicholtz Road, Suite 220
Cincinnati, OH 45245
(513) 943-5000
www.westcler.org

*State representatives and contact information:

Representative John Becker, District 65, 77 S. High St, 12th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215, Phone (614) 466-8134 , Fax (614) 719-3966,
Email John@BeckerGOP.com

Representative Doug Green, District 66, 77 S. High St, 13th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215, Phone (614) 644-6034 , Fax (614) 719-6988,
Email Rep66@ohiohouse.gov

Senator Joe Uecker, District 14, Senate Building, 1 Capitol Square, 1st Floor, Columbus, OH 43215, Phone (614) 466-8082 , Email Uecker@ohiosenate.gov

Dr. Richard Ross – Superintendent, Ohio Department of Education, 25 South Front Street, Columbus, OH 43215, Phone (877) 644-6338 ,
Email Superintendent@education.ohio.gov

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