Sunday, Jul 22, 2018
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Feedback unheard

The Ohio Department of Education has not done a good job of listening. When putting together the state’s proposal to meet the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, it has been virtually deaf. But it needs to listen now and delay submitting its final plan so that lawmakers and the public can have additional input.

All states must turn in their plans on either April 3 or Sept. 18. Ohio’s current proposal, which is scheduled to be sent next month, has drawn widespread condemnation for failing to recommend a reduction in the number of mandated tests for students.


State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) speaks with area residents during a forum held at Start High School on the state's education plan. State Rep. Fedor would like the state to delay submitting the proposed plan until the public has had more input.

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The state is planning to keep the total number of tests at 24, which teachers, administrators, and students say takes away from instructional time and has not improved performance. Lowering the total, which ESSA allows, can only be done by a state law change.

“The General Assembly will enact changes to the number of required tests, and we will do it over the next several months, but we cannot do it by April 3,” state Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) told The Blade’s editorial board.

The beauty of the Every Student Succeeds Act is that it gives more flexibility and power to states and local school districts. The U.S. Department of Education also gives states flexibility in submitting their final plans. Ohio should take advantage of this and truly listen to concerns of educators before delivering the state’s final plan on Sept. 18.

State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo), the ranking Democrat on the House education committee, is concerned not only with the high number of tests but also with the state report card grading system and accountability standards. 

State education officials have said they incorporated feedback from thousands of residents when compiling their plan. But they must not have included input from the angry educators and administrators who have been showing up at forums around the state, including one hosted by Ms. Fedor at Start High School recently. The message has been loud and unified: fewer tests and a fairer report card.

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