Is state testing during a pandemic necessary?

Ohio lawmakers tried their best this week to give students, teachers and administrators a little wiggle room for required testing. They added an extra week in April or May to the window for assessments, after federal education officials said no to the request to skip the tests for a second straight year.

Bizarrely, the bipartisan bill that has passed the House created a little flexibility for most tests, and also canceled the state-required end-of-course exam in U.S. History. (If there was ever a time we needed students to have a clear understanding of this nation’s history …)

Federal officials did have the good sense to offer states a chance to apply for exemptions to some accountability measures linked to the results of those tests, and the Ohio bill directs state officials to do so. That, of course, begs the question — if states can apply to make the tests meaningless, why force students and schools to go through the motions?

State Senators’ hands may be tied in doing any more to mitigate the challenges created by federal testing requirements, but they should give it a go. It is hoped that as soon as next academic year, teaching and testing will return to pre-pandemic norms. When that happens, we know our teachers will have a plan to attack learning loss and get students ready for all those tests.

Asking them to do so this year, when most students have so recently returned to full-time in-person learning, seems absurd.


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