Ohio to seek federal approval to pilot alternative testing

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Fifteen school districts in Ohio would be allowed to develop and administer their own standardized tests under a federal waiver state education officials were preparing Tuesday.

The request by the Ohio Department of Education would launch a pilot program aimed at addressing growing concern among parents, teachers and policymakers about state-administered assessments rolled out last month. Some parents concerned with the Common Core curriculum and testing fairness joined a national movement and opted their children out of the tests.

High-performing schools tapped for the pilot are all STEM or Innovation Lab Network schools known for innovative education approaches. Ohio law directed the department to extend the invitation to both types of schools to apply for the waivers, in the hopes they can carry some of that ingenuity into developing new exams.

“As Ohio offers more options that allow students with different interests and goals to choose their own pathways to success, I believe these alternative tests may give us an accurate view of what students on different pathways are learning,” said state Superintendent Richard Ross, announcing the initiative Monday.

If federal approval is granted, new tests would be in place for the 2016-2017 school year.

The move is among several steps Ohio has taken to address backlash not only to the Common Core, but to a growing list of education standards and test requirements that are taking teacher attention and classroom time.

Gov. John Kasich signed a law last month aimed at temporarily protecting students against the academic impacts of Ohio’s new proficiency tests, and a state Senate panel is working on longer term testing recommendations. Lawmakers are also considering a January recommendation by Ross to cut the time students spend on standardized tests by almost 20 percent.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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