Draft recommendations submitted to State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria by the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Assessments call for the state to substantially pare back its student assessment requirements, eliminating tests not required by federal law.
Superintendent DeMaria convened the Advisory Committee on Assessments this past Spring to focus on the full range of testing issues — including state-required tests, as well as district-level tests. Ron Matter and Jamie Palma served as representatives from career-technical education on the Committee.
“The (Advisory) Committee worked long and hard to come up with recommendations on testing that benefit Ohio students. The group, made up of educators from all different areas, were receptive the ideas/recommendations regarding the CTE assessments,” said Ron Matter, Superintendent of Penta Career Center and member of the committee. “I think the other Committee members learned a lot about what CTE entails and the challenges career-tech educators face – especially in terms of testing.”.
The Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Assessments, formed by DeMaria and lead by Deputy Superintendent John Richard, voted informally at a meeting last week on a range of recommendations. Based on results of that vote, Richard brought forth five "first tier" recommendations June 6 reflecting options that got the most support last week.
The first, most popular recommendation, receiving 21 votes, calls for eliminating fourth and sixth-grade social studies assessments, American history and American government end-of-course exams, and one of two end-of-course exams in both math and English. It also urges elimination of the fall administration of the third grade English test, contingent on repeal of the retention mandate under the third grade reading guarantee.
The third-ranked and fourth-ranked recommendations both received 12 votes. One urges replacement of end-of-course exams with a single-sitting general content exam covering English, math, science and social studies. The other urges elimination of the fourth and sixth grade social studies assessments.
Second-tier recommendations, those receiving four or fewer votes, call for the following:
- Develop adaptive assessments that measure above grade-level items so state tests can be used to identify gifted students.
- Eliminate stand-alone social studies tests but integrate the content into the standards and assessments for English.
- Eliminate the third grade reading guarantee's retention mandate and the fall administration of the third grade English assessment.
- Eliminate WorkKeys as an assessment for graduation purposes.
- Maintain the end-of-course exam system but without the English language I, geometry/math II and American history exams.
- Replace the statewide ACT and SAT administration with a voucher system to pay the costs for students who choose to take the tests.
- Require return of data within a week or two, with detailed reports to guide implementation.
A report is to be sent to DeMaria later this week, pending final edits submitted Tuesday by committee members.
The advisory group also discussed and reached consensus Tuesday on recommendations for ways to streamline local assessments. The group recommended that the state provide assistance and training to local districts on the use of assessment audits; develop a comprehensive list of approved assessments for state requirements so districts can see which ones fulfill multiple purposes; and a unified communication plan to explain the details and purposes of state and local assessments. Richard said he would draft a section of the report encompassing those suggestions and send it to committee members for edits quickly.
The group spent the final portion of its meeting brainstorming long-term reforms and changes to assessments, as a springboard for the strategic planning effort DeMaria launched earlier this year. One of five workgroups formed as part of that strategic planning effort is to focus on standards, assessments and accountability.