Most Ohio elementary and middle school students take 10 standardized tests each year. They average 20 hours of testing time and spend another 15 hours practicing for the tests.
State and federal lawmakers are considering a number of changes.
There’s broad support at the Ohio Statehouse for cutting back on the number of standardized tests and the number of hours spent practicing and taking the tests.
Hilliard school superintendent John Marchausen serves on the Senate Advisory Committee on testing.
“I think in Ohio we need to look at shorter testing windows late in the school year so that testing doesn’t start in the end of February and run through the beginning of May,” Marschausen said. “We need to find an assessment that meets the needs for one testing window, less disruption in the classroom and get the results back faster so teachers can use them to plan for the following year.”
Some assessments are required by the federal government under the No Child Left Behind Act. Congress is currently considering reauthorization of that legislation under the new name Every Child Achieves Act.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown says a provision in the reauthorization called the Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely (SMART) Act would help states eliminate outdated and duplicative tests while ensuring that tests that are administered are reliable and efficient.
“The federal role is to help these states do that – making sure that we preserve accountability for taxpayers but to make sure that students are getting the opportunity to learn and teachers can teach what they went to school for,” Brown told NBC 4.
Brown said the SMART Act would update an existing grant formula to assist states and local education agencies in aligning testing materials to college- and career-ready standards.
The funding could also be used to speed delivery of test data to educators and parents providing more time for educators to design instruction based on test results.
One of the complaints from teachers and administrators about the current tests in Ohio is that they don’t receive the test results in a timely fashion.
Mary Kennedy, a music teacher and spokesperson for the Hilliard Education Association says the standardized tests provide little benefit to students.
“They are being used to rate a school system, they are being used to rate a school district, they are being used to rate a teacher,” Kennedy said. “They’re not being used to guide the instruction of the student or to benefit the education of the student.”