Within the framework of greater flexibility allowed on the plans, Ohio’s plan incorporates several unique elements, including a focus on the state’s most vulnerable students and assistance to struggling schools.
Paolo DeMaria, Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, stated in reference to the new elements:
Ohio embraced this opportunity to engage with stakeholders across the state to review and refine basic aspects of education policy and identify key elements of a road map for student success. Ohio’s ESSA state plan provides support to struggling schools and places special focus on our most vulnerable students.
Despite the unique elements, several critics have noted that stakeholders had requested less state testing and a reduced impact of that testing on teachers’ evaluations. Few changes were made to Ohio’s plan in these areas.
The state board assures that these issues are being addressed outside the parameters of the required ESSA plan. They have been holding meetings to address these concerns, to develop new goals, and plan to provide opportunities for the public to give feedback as they have throughout this process.
The Ohio School Board has requested that the State Legislature make cuts to Ohio’s testing, including eliminating three items: the high school English I exam, WorkKeys tests for some career training students, and requirements that some tests be given just to evaluate teachers.
The legislature seems to be in agreement with the Board recommendations and had already eliminated state social studies tests for 4th and 6th graders earlier this year.
Careful consideration is being given as tests are considered for elimination that Ohio continues to meet the federal requirements in this area.
Melissa Cropper, head of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, one of two teacher unions in Ohio, indicated Ohio’s plan is important but noted:
More important to OFT is continuing to work with the Ohio Department of Education on developing a strategic vision and an implementation plan that lifts up the quality work happening in our public schools and allows districts to focus on the whole child rather than on test scores.
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