As school begins again across the state, I can say with confidence that the state Legislature has taken a positive step with House Bill 64. With its passage in June, the state operating budget in Ohio achieved some major goals in Ohio’s pathway to eliminating the Common Core standards and improving education for Ohio’s students.
The state budget included a one year extension of safe harbor for Ohio’s students and teachers, as well as the elimination of PARCC testing in Ohio. This provision keeps the focus on learning in our classrooms, and does not tie students and teachers unfairly to assessments.
Students will now be preparing for the new AIR test, produced by the same company responsible for the Ohio Achievement Test and the Ohio Graduation Test, used prior to the implementation of Common Core. The new AIR assessments will be far less time consuming than the PARCC, but will utilize some of the innovations in testing that saw positive results in PARCC, such as an increased usage of technology. For the 2015-16 school year, individual districts will decide how much testing is done using technology. The budget also reduces the number of testing hours and lessens the multiple testing windows to a single testing period. These changes will help reduce the burden of testing on teachers and students.
Parents in the 84th House District have explained to me their concerns with Common Core as it seems to represent an intrusion of the federal government into our local schools. We must continue working to change this. While an improvement, the use of the AIR test does not resolve our concerns about Common Core because this test will still be measuring student mastery of these standards. However, Ohio educators from around the state are working with the Ohio Department of Education to create a test that will be unique to the needs of Ohio’s students.
The only way to rid Ohio of Common Core is to phase in state standards that are stronger and better than the Common Core standards. Our office has a website devoted to helping Ohioans monitor the progress of our pathway. It is accessible at tinyurl.com/ourpathway.
I’m proud to see our state Legislature taking steps to extend safe harbor for students and teachers, as well as eliminating the PARCC assessments. I will continue working to improve our schools by working to cap testing with House Bill 74, which is currently receiving consideration in the Ohio Senate, ensuring that handwriting is taught in our schools, and other initiatives. Once we have accomplished these goals, the stage will be set for a bill that establishes a clear transition to Ohio’s own academic content standards, keeping the education of Ohio’s students in the hands of Ohioans.
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The writer represents the 84th District in the Ohio House of Representatives.