Teachers from Toledo Public Schools and districts throughout the state met outside schools today and walked in as a group to bring attention to a new federal law that they see as a chance to eliminate some standardized testing and make other improvements to public education.
Toledo Federation of Teachers President Kevin Dalton met with teachers, administrators, and supporters outside Oakdale Elementary before classes began. The event, billed as a Walk-ins for Public Education and backed by the Ohio Federation of Teachers, also was scheduled to take place in Genoa, Oregon, Port Clinton, and elsewhere throughout the region and state.
“Our teachers want less testing. Parents want less testing. Our teachers want authentic assessment and a realistic view of how their child is doing. Our communities want that,” he said. “Our parents don’t believe their students are doing F work, and our teachers know they’re not. And they want a reflective tool. They want something that reflects the hard work that the kids are doing.”
On the latest state report card, TPS received an F in the achievement component, which measures how well students did on standardized tests. Some other local districts also saw grades drop. The state administered its third different test in three years during the 2015-2016 school year, and Ohio raised the benchmarks for what it takes to be considered proficient.
The Ohio Department of Education is currently working on a plan that addresses assessments and school accountability measures in response to the Every Student Succeeds Act, which in December replaced the No Child Left Behind Act.
Teachers have seized upon the new law, which provides local districts and states greater flexibility, as a chance to eliminate some student testing.
“We’ve done this testing for years and years and years,” said Oakdale science teacher Karen McNaughton. “What have I gotten out of that testing? Not much.”
Mr. Dalton said teachers want the state to take this opportunity to cut out some testing and consider other ways to gauge student performance.
“We understand that assessments are not going away. We want to see less standardized testing and more authentic assessments for kids. Authentic assessments can be done through portfolios, rubrics, a litany of ways. However, it’s not just a multiple choice test that captures that students ability one snapshot at a time,” he said.
The state has held a number of public meetings throughout Ohio to gather feedback from residents and school officials about what they would like to see in Ohio’s plan.
Education department spokesman Brittany Halpin said the last of those meetings takes place tonight. She said the state also has received between 8,000 and 9,000 responses to an online survey about the new law and what Ohio’s plan should include.
“It’s been very instructive and informative,” she said.
That input will be used by the department as it develops the plan, which will be sent to the federal education department.
The state education department expects to implement its new plan during the 2017-2018 school year.