Advocacy Update – May 31, 2017: Testing Committee Gets to Sticky Dot Phase; Senate Budget Update

Superintendents’ Advisory Committee on Assessments — The State Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Assessments met on Tuesday, May 30th to finalize their recommendations on state assessments to send to the State Board of Education and the Ohio General Assembly. After a lengthy discussion on each potential recommendation, committee members held a thoughtful conversation on what the scope of their recommendations should be and whether it made sense to recommend “wiping out everything.” Amidst this conversation was the question of what it meant to go to federal minimums. Some members were of the opinion that this related to only to state assessments. Others insisted it also related to all assessments, including local assessments used to fulfill state requirements. Gifted identification was a focal point of this discussion, with committee members ultimately rejecting the notion that testing for gifted identification be eliminated.  

By the end of the meeting, the committee settled on 17 recommendations to prioritize. Each member was given five red “sticky dots” to register their vote on their main priorities. The recommendations with the most votes included:

  • Reduce assessments to the federal minimums with regard to content assessments. This recommendation would eliminate the social studies, one math (EOC) end-of-course and one English language arts (ELA) EOC, and the fall third grade ELA (if retention policy is removed). (21 dots)
  • Remove the requirement to assess all Kindergarten students with the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) if students are assessed with a district selected tool. (15 dots)
  • Replace the end-of-course system with a single-setting general content exam covering English, math, science and social studies. (12 dots)
  • Eliminate the fourth and sixth grade social studies tests. (12 dots)

One of the issues discussed with the top recommendation was how this will affect middle school students taking high school courses.  The recommendation may return Ohio to a situation where these students are double tested or tested on material they covered in a previous year. Given the uncertainty of how the new US Secretary of Education will handle waiver requests, it is unclear how this issue will be resolved.

The committee will meet one more time on Tuesday, June 6th at 4:30 pm to prioritize recommendations for local assessments.   These recommendations will be based on their previously-compiled brainstorming list .

Budget Update – The Ohio Senate Finance subcommittees provided reports on their respective subcommittee hearings to the full Senate Finance Committee on May 30th. The Senate Finance Committee will be taking public testimony through June 7th at which point a substitute bill should be introduced. Senate leadership has signaled that further cuts in the budget will be likely due to less-than-expected state tax revenue.