Legislative Watch – February 12, 2021

Bills Introduced to Waive Spring Testing for This School Year

One of OEA’s legislative priorities for this General Assembly is secure legislation to forego state and federally mandated testing for this school year. The administration of standardized tests is logistically challenging and anxiety-inducing under the best of circumstances. Of course, this year has been anything but the best of circumstances for our members and Ohio’s students. Testing this year would not provide reliable data and would only serve to take away meaningful time from classroom instruction and meeting the needs of students.

Two bills have been introduced that would waive state-required end-of-course exams and require the Ohio Department of Education to seek a waiver of federally required testing. Note that achievement tests administered in grades K-8, as well as one high school test in math, English language arts, and science, are federally required. The US Department of Education has yet to announce a testing waiver, but this may be forthcoming.

House Bill 67, sponsored by Representatives Adam Bird (R- Cincinnati) and Kyle Koehler (R- Springfield), and House Bill 40, sponsored by Representatives Lisa Sobecki (D- Toledo) and Jeffrey Crossman (D- Parma), both received sponsor testimony in the House Education Committee on Tuesday. All the sponsors noted the importance of focusing on teaching and learning rather than testing what remains of the 2020-21 school year. Rep. Koehler noted the urgency of passing having the bill signed into law with an emergency clause by early March in order to have a practical impact. However, Senate President Matt Huffman (R- Lima) has indicated he favors keeping testing in place this school year.

OEA strongly supports legislation to waive testing this year. Click here to take action and urge your legislators to support HB 67. If you are interested in providing written testimony in support of the bill contact OEA Lobbyist Robert Davis at davisr@ohea.org

SB 1 – Requires Half-Unit Financial Literacy Course for High School Students

SB 1 requires students who enter ninth grade for the first time on or after July 1, 2021, to complete a half-unit course in financial literacy. The bill received first hearing sponsor testimony in the Ohio Senate Education Committee on February 2, 2021. Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, any licensed teacher who receives a validation in financial literacy is eligible to teach the stand-alone half credit in financial literacy. The State Board of Education must consult with an advisory committee of at least five classroom teachers prior to adopting any rules regarding the license validation.

To view an SB 1 bill summary, click here.

 HB 54: Repeals Academic Distress Commissions (State Takeovers)

Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) and Rep. Al Cutrona (R-Canfield) provided HB 54 sponsor testimony to the Ohio House Education Committee on February 9, 2020. HB 54 would repeal the failed state takeover law and return local control to school districts in Youngstown, Lorain, and East Cleveland. HB 54 is the same bill that passed the Ohio House of Representatives 83-12 in 2019 (under bill number HB 154). In addition to HB 54, a second bill HB 100 (R-G.Manning/D-K.Smith) has been introduced that would also dissolve academic distress commissions and repeal the state takeover law. OEA supports both bills.