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In Wake of Release of Barebones 2020 Ohio School Report Cards, Ohio Education Association Urges Overhaul of State’s Broken Report Card System

[September 15, 2020] While the Ohio Education Association (OEA) appreciates the decision not to include misleading grades or rankings in the 2019-2020 Ohio School Report Cards, OEA leaders are urging Ohio lawmakers to seize this opportunity to overhaul the state’s broken report cards once and for all.

“These latest school and district report cards shine a spotlight on the major problems with the entire report card scheme,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said. “The fact that the state recognizes that any 2020 letter grades and rankings would be useless without spring testing data proves just how overly-reliant the existing grade card system is on standardized tests. If the essential value of the state’s report card system is standardized test results – which do not accurately represent how a student, teacher or school is performing — the state’s current report card system has no value at all.”

“These tests and the algebraic contortions the state’s report card system twists them into have always been stacked against low-income students, especially. OEA is not afraid of accountability. But the state must design a fair, informative, and transparent accountability system,” DiMauro said.

Spring standardized testing was suspended in Ohio after school buildings shut down in March to protect students and educators from COVID-19. As schools return to session this fall, many Ohio lawmakers recognize the futility of resuming standardized testing in an environment that is now anything but standard.

Not a single educator has indicated to us that missing the spring tests harmed a single student.

If passed, Senate Bill 358 would require the Ohio Department of Education to seek a federal waiver of testing requirements and suspend the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and the fall 3rd grade English test.

Further, SB 358 calls for suspending school and district report card ratings for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years – a measure welcomed by OEA. “Due to COVID-19, school districts will continue to experience barriers to education service delivery and instability in student data (particularly in districts with high concentrations of poverty). It would be misleading and unfair to require report card grades or punitive measures based on report card data during this time,” OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing said in support of SB 358 in early September. Click here to read Vice President Wensing’s full statement.

“Senate Bill 358 is a good start, but much more work is needed to address the foundational issues with Ohio’s current school report card system,” DiMauro said. “The cookie-cutter A-F grades are a meaningless and simplistic way to describe students’ educational experiences. All they accurately measure are a student’s and district’s wealth. Using these tests to punish low-income students by providing cover for taxpayer money to be diverted to worse-performing private and charter schools while undermining local control in poor districts is a stain on Ohio’s education system. The state needs a truly informative accountability system that fairly identifies improvement areas while empowering stakeholders to direct resources where they are needed most. That – rather than punishing poor kids and schools – should be lawmakers’ guiding light.”

More information about OEA’s recommended reforms can be found at ohea.org/oea-calls-for-sweeping-changes-to-state-report-cards/

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