Legislative Watch – May 29, 2020

House Passes Testing Reduction Act

On Thursday, May 29, 2020, the Ohio House passed House Bill 239 with strong, bipartisan support by a vote of 78-14. The bill, jointly sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Erica Crawley (D- Columbus) seeks to reduce the amount of time that students spend on tests required by the state and local school districts in effort to restore instructional time to the classroom. OEA strongly supports HB 239 and would like to thank the sponsors for their hard work on the legislation as well as all House members who supported the bill.

Prior to its passage, the bill was amended several times this week. In its final hearing before the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee, two amendments were added to the bill. One amendment reduced the number of state-required end-of-course exams by combining the assessments in American History and American Government into a single test. The second amendment exempts the 2020-2021 school year from the student retention requirement tied to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The bill was approved unanimously by the Committee. On the House floor, the bill was amended to make student participation in the ACT/SAT voluntary. However, the state will continue to offer a paid administration of the test for high school juniors who choose to take it.

As passed by the House, the bill now includes the following provisions:

  • Require school districts to convene a local work group made up of teachers, parents, and administrators to examine district-required testing and make recommendations for ways to reduce the amount of time students spend taking tests.
  • Reduce the number of high school end-of-course exams by combining American History and American Government assessments into a single test.
  • Alter the existing provision that allows local school boards to pass a resolution to exceed testing limits by requiring that such action be taken on an annual basis and be reported to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).
  • Provide that the state continues to offer administration of the ACT/SAT tests for high school juniors, but student participation would be voluntary.
  • Exempt the 2020-2021 school year from student retention tied to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
  • Require that ODE issue an annual report on the time spent on state- and district-required testing in Ohio’s schools.

House Bill 239 will now advance to the Ohio Senate. You can urge your State Senators to support this important legislation by writing a letter here.