Teachers' union protests standardized testing

By MARC KOVAC @ohiocapitalblog mkovac@dixcom.com Published:

COLUMBUS -- Jorge Gonzalez rattled off a long list of tests currently required for Ohio's schoolchildren.

There's the Ohio Graduation Test for sophomores, juniors and seniors, new end-of-course assessments and college entrance exams for incoming high school freshmen, reading assessments for third graders, and on and on.

"Test, test, test -- when will it end?" Gonzalez, a Spanish teacher from the Cincinnati area, asked. "As professionals, we're not against tests. ... If we're not allowed to use tests for the right reasons, that's wrong."

On Tuesday, Gonzalez joined dozens of other teachers and union members in short midday protest just down the street from the Statehouse, where they voiced their concern about standardized testing, the third-grade reading guarantee, efforts to repeal Common Core standards and others policies affecting Ohio's schoolchildren.

"This is what we face: merit pay... right to work, less funding, more students in each classroom, frozen steps, frozen base, third grade reading guarantee, a rush to (repeal) the Common Core before we know what the standards are...," Gonzalez said.

The Ohio Education Association organized the rally as part of a leadership training session. The union group is particularly concerned about testing requirements, which they say hamper teacher discretion in classrooms and unnecessarily penalize students.

"As professionals, we know that these toxic tests create stakes that are way too high and a school environment that's way too stressful, and that's wrong," Gonzalez said.

OEA President Becky Higgins, a former Cuyahoga Falls resident and longtime teacher, said state officials are overusing and misusing standardized testing.

Such tests should be used to shape classroom instruction and help students to learn.

"It's being used, we feel, to punish students and educators and the districts," she said, adding, "All children come to a school and a grade at different levels. So to think that on one test on one day a student has to meet a certain cut score in order to go on ... All students are being educated during the year. To think that that one day is going to have an impact on the student's life, we do not believe that's educationally sound practice."

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