Hilliard Northwest News

District officials implore Kasich, legislature to delay state testing

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Hilliard City Schools officials are appealing to Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly to push back the schedule for Ohio Achievement Assessments.

Currently, the state has scheduled Ohio Achievement Assessments for April 21 to May 9. The tests apply to all students in grades three to eight, said district spokeswoman Amanda Morris.

In a Jan. 31 letter to Kasich, signed by Superintendent John Marschhausen, school board President Andy Teater and Mary Kennedy, president of the Hilliard Education Association, the district asked Kasich to push back the assessments at least two weeks.

The postponement is needed, the letter said, because of the number of calamity days, six so far and not counting late-start days, the district has used.

"We want our students to have a fair opportunity to be successful on these state assessments. Therefore, we ask that the state assessment schedule be moved back at least two weeks so that students will have had all the instruction time that had been anticipated when the current schedule was established," the letter said.

Those assessments include the Ohio Third-Grade Reading Guarantee that requires all third-grade students to demonstrate a standardized reading proficiency to advance to the fourth grade.

Marschhausen wrote while there are "potential obstacles" to delaying the testing window, it would be necessary to achieve an "accurate assessment" of student performance and growth.

Marschhausen said another reason for seeking the postponement is that the test results are a factor in the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System.

Marschhausen shared the district's appeal at the Feb. 10 school board meeting.

"I am pleased to have already received some feedback," said Marschhausen, including a call from Ohio Rep. Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City). "I'm pleased our elected officials are listening and looking at options."

Marschhausen said he expects an indication from state elected officials by the end of the week concerning the district's request.

"Before we begin these high-stakes tests (in the spring) we want to have the appropriate time to prepare our students and our teachers," Morris said.

In another weather-related topic, Marschhausen shared his assessment of the district's first use of "blizzard bags," online assignments students can perform on calamity days.

The State Board of Education last month allowed districts to make use of the two-year-old policy during the middle of the school year and Hilliard took advantage. The policy allows districts, after using all five calamity days state law allows, to recover three additional days.

Feb. 5 was the school district's sixth calamity day.

"Overall, it was a positive experience ... but there are some things we want to do better, but we knew that going in," Marschhausen said.

Marschhausen said some delivery systems were slow because so many students were using social media sites to obtain the coursework at peak times.

"Some of our teachers (anticipating the likelihood of a calamity day) put out assignments early and that helped," Marschhausen said.

Some parents reported issues with high volumes of printing included for some assignments, Marschhausen said.

"But all in all, there were no real problems," he said.

Students without Internet access receive the assignments upon their return to school and all students have two weeks to complete the coursework.

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