Superintendents weigh in as state sorts out new standards

Avon/Avon Lake

By Nicole Hennessy

The state of Ohio’s April deadline for sending its proposed plan to align with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to the U.S. Department of Education has been pushed back to September – a small victory for advocates against excessive testing.

In the meantime, local educators are pushing for what they see as fair standards.

Last month, over 100 people from both Lorain and Cuyahoga counties discussed their concerns regarding the state’s proposed plan to comply with ESSA, which many are criticizing as just another version of the repealed No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Prior to the meeting, superintendents from Lorain and Cuyahoga counties sent the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) a letter opposing the state’s proposed plan, which they argue includes too much testing.

The state’s intent to keep the number of required standardized tests at 24, when only seven are required by federal law, has drawn criticism.

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.

Actively engaged in the fight to create a fair learning environment for students, Avon Superintendent Mike Laub is now a member of the ODE’s Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Assessment.

“We have only met one time to this point, but there are six additional meetings on the calendar,” said Laub.

“I’m looking forward to providing input to the state superintendent in regard to the assessment system in Ohio.”

Avon Lake Superintendent Bob Scott says, though he has no doubt his voice is being heard, Laub’s position makes him feel more engaged with the process.

Scott says engaged officials paired with engaged constituents like those who attended the Avon meeting are necessary to ensuring state legislators consider their concerns.

Scott said he hopes to have another regional meeting scheduled this summer.

In the meantime, he encourages any interested or concerned parents to reach out to the ODE with comments or to simply talk to administrators and educators at their schools to find out what is going on.

Feeling cautiously optimistic, Scott said he has confidence the state’s plan for ESSA can be more reasonable than state and federal mandates have been in recent years.

“Reality can be the driver of this (plan) and not some policy or report card,” Scott said.

“I think we have an opportunity right now to put something in place that actually is what we need for kids, rather than something that we either have to go over or go around to actually do what we need to do for kids in the classroom.”

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