(MARCH 12, 2019 • COLUMBUS, OH) President Kohler, Vice President McGuire, Superintendent DeMaria, and members of the Board, my name is Scott DiMauro.
I am a high school social studies teacher from the Worthington Schools currently serving as Vice President of the Ohio Education Association.
On behalf of OEA’s 122,000 members, I appreciate the opportunity to provide comments on the Resolution on today’s agenda to supplement and clarify the high school graduation requirements recommendations addressing Section 5 of House Bill 491.
We appreciate the good work of State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria and the State Board of Education in your efforts to come up with recommendations for a new, permanent set of graduation requirements that, in accordance with Substitute House Bill 491, “reduces reliance on state testing, encourages local innovation, and supports student readiness for a career, college and life.”
In particular, OEA supports the superintendent’s recommendations to support students with deliberate planning and career advising, to provide early intervention for middle school and high school students not on track to meet graduation requirements, and to provide training for teachers and others who will evaluate non-standardized demonstrations of student learning.
We urge the Board to go further in looking at ways in which to instill creativity, imagination and a desire to learn in the high school experience by rolling back the excessive burden of standardized testing.
Ohio is in the minority of states that exceeds minimum federal testing requirements for high school students. The number of end-of-course exams, as well as the stakes attached to them, must be reduced.
For example, the testing burden could be further reduced, and teachers given more time to teach, by re-examining the ACT/SAT testing requirements, and reconsidering what is needed for career-technical and other students who are pursuing alternative pathways to graduation.
It is also important that educators have access to reliable test item analysis information that will help them better prepare their students for success.
In any deliberations related to testing and graduation requirements, we urge policymakers to show that they value the professionalism and good judgment of Ohio’s educators who have dedicated their careers to the success of all our students, including incarcerated youth, students with disabilities, English learners, students with interruptions in their formal education, students in poverty, and students of color.
And last, but not least, OEA urges the Board to stick with its original recommendation to have new graduation requirements take effect with the class of 2022.
It is simply unfair and unreasonable to expect that students who are already half way through their high school careers should be expected to meet a whole new set of requirements for graduation.
They, and the education professionals who support them, need time to plan for these changes. The original Superintendent’s Advisory Committee, which consisted of representatives of the K-12, higher education, and business communities, was right to recommend that any new requirements take effect with an incoming freshman class.
We encourage the Board to stand by the recommendation passed in November 2018 and reject an acceleration of the implementation timeline as presented in the draft resolution before you today.
Thank you for your time and attention.