High-Stakes Testing - Focus for Advocacy
Support Appropriate Uses of Standardized Tests
The League of Women Voters Ohio is not opposed to testing. It is, however, opposed to the misuse of standardized tests. Our advocacy will focus on reducing the inappropriate use of tests and helping the public understand acceptable uses of standardized tests.
The legislature has defined test scores as adequate for defining student achievement, and the appropriate metric for judging the quality of instruction in individual classrooms, the quality of education in schools and school districts. As long as testing is a federal requirement our advocacy will focus on how it is used and how it is reported - both of which are at the discretion of state lawmakers.
Support meaningful state reports that define education opportunity available in individual school districts.
The public has a long-standing interest in knowing how to assess education quality and to know how their schools are doing. Education is complex and students are diverse. This means the assessment of quality must be based on multiple factors and measures, often best assessed at the community level. A focus on results without consideration of opportunity is too limited. And reducing this complex question to a single grade is not meaningful.
High-stakes testing has produced a state-report card that ignores this complexity. Our advocacy will oppose the use of test-scores to grade districts, and will promote a more holistic approach.
HB 200, currently pending in the legislature, would make substantial changes in the state report card and end the practice of issuing a single letter grade. Click here to read the LSC analysis of the bill: download (ohio.gov)
End the use of standardized tests to make high stakes decisions
During the 134 General Assembly the legislature has considered changing some consequences tied to low test scores. We support changes in both areas.
The formation of Academic Distress Commissions to operate school districts with three consecutive years of low performance. HB 110 temporarily returned to three local elected boards of education control of their school districts after a highly unproductive period of state receivership. All three districts serve a high-poverty student population in low wealth communities. Lawmakers did not, however, put a permanent end to imposing state control on districts with low test scores, and they left open the possibility that the three districts could return to state receivership.
Retaining third graders in grade. The 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee currently requires that students with low test results on state reading tests must be retained in grade. HB 497 would end the requirement in part because test taking at that age is unreliable, and grade retention does not guarantee improvement. The Ohio House approved the bill. It is awaiting action by the Senate. Click here to read the LSC analysis of the bill: download (ohio.gov)
Support realistic strategies to improve student success, including adequate and equitable funding, wrap around services, and social emotional learning.
While it is appropriate to want all children to experience success, it is unrealistic to think that high-stakes testing can make every child achieve at a high level. Policies and practices that address the needs of the whole child, make education opportunities uniformly available, and provide for strategies that lead to equity can move us forward.
The State Board of Education, the Ohio Department of Education, the legislature, local communities and school boards, parents and children all have a role to play. We must focus on creating the climate and opportunity for success at every level to make public education a resource for every student. Testing more often than not, gets in the way of that goal.