New law waives standardized testing requirements, allow Ohio students to use course grade for graduation

State News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Schools and students now know what to expect when it comes to closing out this school year with standardized testing after Gov. Mike DeWine signed substitute House Bill 67 last weekend.

Nervousness and pressure are how two students described expectations for testing this year. The bill, which went into effect immediately, covers multiple bases.

The bill, written to conform with U.S. Department of Education mandates, extends the standardized testing window and allows some flexibility for upper classmen.

The bill also allows 11th– and 12th-grade students to use their course grades to fulfill graduation requirements. The legislation also waives the state’s American history exam.

“What’s going to be on the test, how do I know if I know it, a lot of bellyaches, what we call them in our LECs are nervous bellies,” said Darlene Scheid, youth development director of Community Development for All People.

Those are the questions she is hearing from her kindergarten through eighth grade students at a local learning extension center.

To quell those fears, she said it’s about positivity.

“Talking to our kids about what they’ve learned in this time about themselves and how they know that they can get through it and that they can dig deep,” Scheid said.

“I just feel like if this goes wrong, then this is going to be a steppingstone that just goes wrong,” South High School junior Sesily Wanjema said. “The block is going to crumble.”

Wanjema said she still feels pressure and wants to excel. Fellow student Daizhon Cox said this is the same anxiety he had with ACT testing a month ago.

“It was a lot of things on there that I didn’t see, you know, in my junior year,” Cox said. “That’s what I was upset about, so now just imagine when I take that state test, I’m going to see a lot more things that I didn’t learn my junior year that I didn’t see. There’s a lot of new material.”

Scheid said testing is important to know exactly where students stand and hopes this year’s exams focus on just that.

“Take stock of the scores and where our scholars have been across the state and then we can, together as community partners, as adults in this generation of kids lives, make decisions to better equip them moving forward because this pandemic is shaping a whole generation of kids,” she said.

The legislation had an emergency clause, putting it into action immediately.

The U.S. Department of Education is not allowing waivers for standardized testing this school year. Ohio will still be required to issue school report cards so parents can see how their schools are performing. However, the federal government said it is up to the states whether to punish those schools that underperform.

“We are pleased Governor DeWine responded to the needs of our students during this challenging year,” said Dr. Terri Breeden, interim chief academic officer for Columbus City Schools in a statement. “Using final grades in courses acknowledges the hard work students have been accomplishing each and every day.”

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