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Published: Wednesday, 3/24/2004

Union leader wants graduation test delay

BY SANDRA SVOBODA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

What the new Ohio Graduation Test represents - a move toward accountability and standards in education - is fine with Ohio Federation of Teachers President Tom Mooney.

It's the timing of requiring the test for high school diplomas, Mr. Mooney said, that bothers him.

"We're trying to move way too fast to make this a high-stakes test," he said yesterday.

Mr. Mooney is hoping the OFT's 250 union delegates, who begin a four-day meeting in Toledo today, will adopt a resolution calling for a delay in the adoption of the Ohio Graduation Test for high school graduation. Such action would require legislative action.

"I do understand their concerns," said Bob Bowers, Ohio's deputy superintendent of public instruction at the Ohio Department of Education. "But from our standpoint, we're ready now."

Passage of Ohio's five-subject graduation test will be required of this year's high school freshmen. When the students take the test as sophomores next March, their results will count on districts' report cards.

The state board of education will look at the results of pilot tests - English and math sections administered last year and all five subjects this year - to set passing standards at the panel's July meeting, Dr. Bowers said.

Mr. Mooney said the timeline has been too short both for redeveloping classroom lessons to include appropriate material and for knowing what score is needed to pass.

The state board of education adopted academic content standards in December, 2001, for language arts and math and a year later for science and social studies. But the panel had not fully adopted model curricula, which cover material for the tests, until earlier this month.

Dr. Bowers said the state has provided districts with the standards and a "curriculum alignment tool" to help match existing lesson plans to the test. The state also mailed directly to teachers' homes information about the new test and has held workshops.

Francine Lawrence, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers and a member of the OFT executive committee, said she supports the planned resolution.

"We need additional time to prepare students to have the opportunity to succeed and the standards need to be equitable," Mrs. Lawrence said.

If OFT adopts the resolution, Mr. Mooney said the group will move quickly to gather support before taking the issue to the state superintendent, board of education, and the legislature.

Contact Sandra Svoboda at:

svoboda@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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