OEA calls for suspension of state-imposed high-stakes decisions in implementation of new Common Core standards
COLUMBUS — May 12, 2014 — Nearly a thousand education leaders from schools throughout the state who gathered Friday and Saturday at the Ohio Education Association’s Spring Representative Assembly voted unanimously to support proposed legislation that would hit the pause button on all state-imposed high-stakes decisions based on student test results in the implementation of Ohio’s New Learning Standards. This would allow school districts across the state to have adequate time to prepare students to succeed. Assessments based on the new standards are scheduled to take effect in the next school year.
Like too many others across the country, OEA members and their students are beleaguered by the ever-increasing weight of standardized testing. From federal mandates tied to the No Child Left Behind Act to the growing number of state-level achievement tests, Ohio’s students are being subjected to the overuse and misuse of standardized tests. Too often, what students are being taught and what is being tested are not aligned, particularly now as Ohio educators continue to develop curricula to match new and higher-level learning standards.
“We want to hit the pause button on all state-imposed high-stakes decisions tied to student test results so that educators and the communities in which they work will have the time, resources and freedom to explore and design appropriate curricula,” said OEA President Becky Higgins. “OEA is committed to making sure schools have the resources they need to give educators the means to help students succeed.”
In a 2013 PDK/Gallup poll of public attitudes toward public education, 77 percent of respondents said increased testing has either hurt or made no difference in improving schools. A recent poll in this state revealed that 42% believe that too much emphasis on standardized tests is the most serious problem facing Ohio public schools, making it the number one education concern of Ohio voters. The misuse and overuse of standardized testing harms children, demoralizes educators, and undermines public confidence in our schools.
Classroom teachers throughout the state echo these sentiments. Erin Salzer, a special education teacher from Pickerington noted, “Attaching high-stakes accountability to new standards and new assessments without providing students the time to learn the foundational skills necessary to be successful in the new standards only sets students up for failure and parents for frustration.”
“Smart implementation of the new standards is about giving students and educators the time and tools they need to succeed,” said Higgins. “Ohio should heed the warning sign of what’s happened in other states, such as New York, where the hasty and ill-conceived implementation of Common Core assessments have caused parents and educators to lose faith in the new standards. We need time for those making the assessments to get it right.”
The OEA recognizes the need for ongoing comprehensive assessment of student growth and believes the primary purpose of any assessment should be to assist students and their parents in identifying strengths and needs and to encourage students to become lifelong learners. A three-year safe harbor on high stakes decisions tied to standardized testing will give educators and their communities the time, resources and freedom to deliver the teaching and learning conditions fundamental to student success.
The Ohio Education Association (ohea.org) represents 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohio's public schools, colleges and universities.
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