LIMA — Ohio high school students will soon face a new testing system that will look more like the tests their parents took years ago.
A nationally standardized college readiness test and 10 end-of-course/year exams in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies will replace the Ohio Graduation Tests.
“I have actually been in favor of end-of-course exams for a long time,” said Bath schools Superintendent Dale Lewellen. “I don’t see it as much of anything but a return to what we used to do. Other than the fact that someone else is generating the exams.”
The Ohio Board of Regents and the Ohio Department of Education are developing requirements to seek bids for a nationally standardized assessment to measure student preparation for postsecondary education and the workforce. The agencies signed a memorandum of agreement as required by state law.
The new assessment will be required of all high school sophomores beginning with the 2014-15 school year. However, pending the outcome of the competitive bid process and the availability of sufficient funding, the Department of Education and the Board of Regents agree that implementation in the 2013-14 school year is possible.
The OGT will be replaced by a series of end-of-course/year exams in core high school subjects, including English I, II and III, Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, biology, physical science, American history and American government.
Local school officials said the new tests will be a better way of assessing students.
“I think it is important to find out how well a student has grasped the content right after they have learned it,” Lewellen said.
Lima schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman said the district has already begun moving some things in order to be more compatible with the end-of-course exams and new content standards. She thinks the new tests make more sense than the OGT.
“We are going to get more immediate feedback,” she said. “Instead of just testing everyone in the 10th grade, we are getting ongoing feedback in specific content areas.”
Ackerman adds that one of the courses would not come until a student’s senior year, meaning that students will be held accountable up until the end of their schooling.
“Sometimes there is so much pressure put on a teacher where the test is given,” she said. “Now it spreads responsibility out among all content, all grade levels. It will cause more rigor.”
Student performance on the tests is expected to be part of the student’s course grade and a factor in Ohio’s revised accountability system. A transition plan is being finalized for full implementation of the new requirements.
“We cannot expect our students to be postsecondary ready for college or careers if we do not increase our minimal standards to allow our students to successfully compete,” said Debe Terhar, president of the Ohio Board of Education. “The higher expectations and next generation of assessments coming to Ohio and many other states are long overdue for our students.”