LIMA — While the Ohio Senate considered a bill to expand the number of calamity days offered to schools throughout the state Wednesday, Lima schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman was more pleased about another expansion brought about by this year’s unusually severe winter.
On Feb. 11, Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard A. Ross announced that the Department of Education was expanding the window for the Ohio Achievement Assessment test, evaluations grading students in grades three through eight in reading, math and science.
“Due to inclement weather, district and school leaders have faced unprecedented challenges as they have made the safety of our boys and girls their top priority,” Ross said during the announcement. “However, they have expressed concern about missed instructional time and the need to prepare students for the assessments. We feel it is important to provide educational leaders with flexibility regarding the assessments. Therefore, we are extending by one week the spring testing window for Ohio schools. This is a reasonable step we can take that will benefit students and teachers.”
Lima schools students were able to make up three missed days this month, coming to school on days when they normally would have been scheduled off. Combined with Ross’ announcement, this is providing valuable time for teachers to prepare students for this exam.
“Our biggest concern, and I’ve said this all along, was having the students with us now prior to the state testing,” Ackerman said prior to Wedensday’s school board meeting. “Probably the best thing that happened for us was that they moved the OAA back. We’ve got a couple of weeks in there where we can spend more time with kids.”
While as of Wednesday, Lima students were looking at an extra five makeup days at the end of the school year, Ackerman noted that having these extra days tacked onto the school year was not a big concern.
“Making up days in June isn’t a big issue for us. We’re air conditioned,” she said. “So we’re not stressing out over summer vacation. We were stressing out over time with the kids before the test.”
Despite the weather keeping children out of school, teachers within the district tried to continue preparing students for the OAA even from home. Included with the blizzard bag homework assignments were study resources for the exams.
“We did some linkage to some online testing, such as practice tests for the OGT and OAA, things that can be instantly graded with the results sent to the teachers,” Ackerman said.
With this extension, students in Lima schools will write the OAA exams the week of May 5. Makeup test dates will be interspersed within that week, as well as from May 12 to 15.