Local superintendents fight against state testing

By Nicole Hennessy

Avon/Avon Lake

Olmsted Falls Superintendent Jim Lloyd explains his and his colleagues’ stance on the state’s plan to implement ESSA standards. Press photo, Nicole Hennessy.

Local superintendents, educators, parents and city officials are fighting back against state-mandated testing.

Gathered in Avon High School’s cafeteria Feb. 22, over 100 people discussed their concerns regarding the state’s proposed plan aligning with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which many are criticizing as just another version of the repealed No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Superintendents from Lorain and Cuyahoga counties recently sent the Ohio Board of Education a letter opposing the state’s proposed plan for compliance with ESSA.

This comes after about 15,000 Ohioans took a survey showing concerns among constituents regarding the testing.

Many are outraged by the state’s intent to keep the number of required standardized tests at 24, when only seven are required by federal law.

ESSA replaced NCLB in 2015.

This change, along with the elimination of the controversial Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests in Ohio schools, was perceived as a victory by those fighting against increased testing and federal oversight.

Still, some remained skeptical that any real change regarding testing would take effect. The reality of that skepticism paired with a trend toward public dollars going to private charter schools have prompted meetings like Wednesday’s.

Ohio has an April deadline to send its proposal to the U.S. Department of Education.

Though testing is the top of the heap when it comes to state mandates, educators are also seeking changes to how districts are “graded” on state report cards, how teachers are evaluated and mandates that impact low-income districts, like chronic low attendance reflecting poorly on schools.

Avon Superintendent Mike Laub and Avon Lake Superintendent Bob Scott did not formally address the crowd Wednesday.

Olmsted Falls Superintendent Jim Lloyd, however, remained vocal.

“They need to not submit on April 3; they need to wait,” Llyod said of the state.

“When you make rushed decisions, you don’t make the best decisions.”

The desires of districts like those represented at the forum and proposals from state legislators can be a complex subject to understand for tired parents who hear bits and pieces that often don’t fit together.

To help them understand, Laub suggested they come to this meeting – or similar meetings in the future.

 “Do you think your students take too many assessments?” Llyod would ask parents trying to understand the issue.

“I think the answer is too many that are state-driven.”

Lloyd said this ultimately takes time away from instruction.

Scott added that there is also the time that is spent preparing for the test that students lose, as well as time where classes cannot be held because the school’s resources, like computers and space, are completely dedicated to testing.

Llyod encourages parents and homeowners without kids, since they also pay for levies, to contact the state board of education and voice their concerns.

“They need to listen to those of us in the field and parents who are saying, ‘You’re killing us with all these tests,’” said Llyod.

“They can keep the money and do something else with it.”

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