School group seeks major changes

By Lance Mihm -

LIMA — The Northwest/West Central Ohio Public School Advocacy Network is continuing its march for returning control to local school boards.

The NWCOPSAN held a stakeholders meeting at Bath Elementary School on Wednesday and had a large turnout, which included many area school officials. The group is now more than 50 area school districts strong.

Mercer County Educational Service Center Superintendent Shelly Vaughn said the group is in agreement that many changes need to be made, and now is the chance.

“We view the Every Student Succeeds Act as a golden opportunity for change,” Vaughn said.

The state moved quickly to replace the Partnership For Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers as its Common Core test provider and now has the American Institutes for Research give Ohio’s math and English tests next year, along with the science and social studies tests AIR already gave this past year. PARCC drew fire from parents around the state due to Common Core approached on the PARCC that they felt unnecessary. The state is now in the planning phase for ESSA, and local schools have taken action in hoping state testing will be lessened and local boards will be given more local control.

“Our concerns are why is there so much testing,” Vaughn said. “Why can’t teachers see responses from the tests? Is the the test developmentally important and have we lost our local control?”

Bath Superintendent Dale Lewellen said he believes tests have heightened what school districts do.

“The one good thing is that we began to look at what we were teaching and how often,” Lewellen said. “We believe in accountability. Our question is, when should the testing be done and when and how it should be done.”

The current proposal would have students taking 24 tests by the time they graduated from high school. Several changes that NWCOPSAN would like to see include:

•Reducing the number of state tests required from 24 to the federal guideline of 17.

•Not using the tests as the sole measure of teacher performance.

•Having more than a punitive reason for doing assessments.

•Allowing teachers to see results so they know what questions children may be missing to better teach the information.

Vaughn recommended that the public advocate for school districts by contacting their local elected officials. She said residents should suggest eliminating ACT or SAT requirements for all students, staying with the new AIR tests for consistency, and to ask that school tests not be tied to graduation requirements.

The group is also advocating to use the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System Performance rubric to evaluate teachers and to eliminate student growth measures because they increase the amount of testing.

By Lance Mihm

Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or on Twitter @ LanceMihm.

Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or on Twitter @ LanceMihm.

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