Ohio House Bill Would Kill American Government and History Testing

 

The Ohio House is currently considering a bill that would reduce the number of state-mandated standardized tests students are required to take by eliminating four end-of-course exams, including the American history and American government exams.

House Bill 239, referred to as the Testing Reduction Act, was introduced by Reps. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Erica Crawley (D-Columbus), and is scheduled to receive its third hearing Tuesday in the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee.

“During my 37 years in an elementary school classroom, I experienced first-hand how stressful standardized testing can be for students. In order to prepare students for the standardized test, teachers often give local diagnostic assessments. I believe so much weight is placed on a score of a standardized test, and creativity in the classroom is dwindling. Every student is different and not every student will excel on a standardized test,” Manning said when testifying on the bill.

In 2012, the Ohio Legislature passed into law Senate Bill 165, which required schools to teach America’s founding documents, like the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights.

In her testimony, Manning maintained that these documents will still be taught even if the American history and American government exams are eliminated.

“The standards will will still be taught even if there is no state assessment in the subject,” she said. “Teachers will still incorporate the material into lessons since it is part of the state standards.”

But some think that just the opposite is true. That is, since students won’t be tested on the documents, then teachers won’t devote their time to teaching them.

“While the standards are somewhat optional, I like to say that they’re mandatory by default because most teachers feel like they have to teach exactly what’s written in the standards in order to do well on the assessments, and we all know that the assessments are now tied to teacher performance,” State School Board Member Sarah Fowler said recently on the Ohio Christian Alliance’s podcast.

There’s also concern over a provision in the bill that would require each school district to “form a work group to examine the amount of time students spend on district required testing and make recommendations to the district board of education on how to reduce testing amounts.” The work groups would be composed of a combination of teachers, administrators, and parents.

“They will undoubtedly come up with findings that the Founding of American Documents end of course exam is not required,” Ohio Christian Alliance’s Chris Long said of the work groups. “They will kill by way of bureaucracy what they cannot do away with by statute legislation, away from the public eye and away from public scrutiny and review.”

Crawley said that the work groups will “help each district uniquely identify how it can improve its existing processes and implement reforms in a way that best serves its schools’ teachers and students.”

The Ohio Education Association, a union that represents more than 121,000 teachers in Ohio, said it “strongly supports” House Bill 239.

“As educators, OEA members are greatly concerned about the amount of testing that Ohio’s students endure,” the group said in a press release. “Excessive testing has led to a loss of instructional time in the classroom and lost educational opportunities for students.”

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to anthony.gockowski@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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