Reynoldsburg school board questions state assessments

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

The Reynoldsburg Board of Education discussed a proposed resolution asking the Ohio Department of Education to reconsider its intent to maintain the status quo regarding student testing as it relates to the Every Student Succeeds Act.

According to the resolution, ESSA represents a shift from broad federal oversight of primary and secondary education to greater flexibility and decision-making at the state and local levels.

“As part of ESSA, Ohio will re-examine its testing requirements,” said board member Neal Whitman referencing the resolution. “Participants in the Ohio Department of Education’s stakeholder meetings during the fall of 2016 expressed an interest in continuing to explore a further reduction in testing. Ohio’s current testing schedule for grades three through eight and high school goes beyond what is required of ESSA.”

Resident Beth Thompson said only a public push will create big educational changes, such as limiting the punitive nature of testing, designing assessments that are developmentally appropriate for children and holding top decision makers across the state accountable.

“As teacher contracts open for negotiation this summer, I ask the board to look carefully at components that rely on testing for evaluation and compensation purposes,” Thompson said. “Assessment on its whole is both necessary and productive when it guides instruction in the classroom and allows for teacher improvement.”

Thompson felt assessment for purposes of reward and punishment is not effective, nor is a system where one waits months for  results. She said testing only tells a partial story of a child’s strengths and weaknesses and should be part of a bigger picture.

If the resolution is adopted by the board at its May meeting, the district will ask the Ohio Department of Education to examine possible reductions in state assessments of all Ohio school students in primary and secondary schools.

Board President Joe Begeny reported on an ad hoc group of neighboring school district administrators that meet regularly to discuss the ESSA, assessments, and other areas of strong concern.

“We want to remind legislators who they work for and get boots on the ground in making these changes like the ESSA; including things like testing amongst a number of things,” said Begeny. “It’s designed to give boards one more opportunity to discuss what’s going on at the district level with each other and to take that to the Statehouse to make sure they know exactly what they’re voting on.”

Fellowship Awards

Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning presented a $3,900 check and a crystal plaque to each of the recipients of the Reynoldsburg Raiders Fellowship Award:

•Summit Road educators Lorraine Gaughenbaugh, Debra Flaherty, Tammy Groezinger, Kathryn Thompson, Taylor Lang and Heidi Leeds;
•Slate Ridge teachers Dawn Malo, Nicholas Twyman, Carol Kohs and Anne Jumper; French Run instructors Lori Noskowiak, Kayla Hamlin and Caitlin Almodovar;
•Taylor Road educators Kristine Calkins, Jenifer King, Mindy Martin, Janet Benedict and Laura Wills;
•Herbert Mills teachers Ian Davis, Angela Forino and Caroline Rittenour;
•Rose Hill instructor Melissa Pope;
•District educators Carmen Adkins, Mia Brower, Angie Griffin, Tracy Macedonia, Christina Watts and Mary Ellen Weeks;
•Hannah Ashton Middle School teachers Aimee Babb, Shauna Crim, Nicole Ford, Hunter Haswell, Heather Keane, Tara Rahm, Austin Walsh and Dakia Washington;
•Waggoner Road Middle School instructor Andrew Boan;
•Waggoner Road Junior High educators Katharine Demchak, Paul Drake, Mawdo Fall, Matthew Fetrow, Thomas Smith, Bridget Wilson and Sarah Zinsser;
•Baldwin Road Junior High teacher Barb Arndt;
•eSTEM educators Jim Coley, Andrea Callicoat, Joseph Griffith, Anna Levina and Steven Ridgway;
•Encore teacher January Murgatroyd;
•HS2 instructors Kellie Geddert and Joseph Sorensen; and
•BELL instructors Susan Borthwick, Kathy Ewing, Briana Johnson and Carmen Robinson.

Thomas-Manning said the fellowships recognize teachers who make substantial impact in the school community resulting in positive outcomes for children. This is the third year for the contract-negotiated program and 16 of the recipients were recognized for the third year in a row.

“We are very blessed to have so many amazing and well-deserving educators in our district,” said Thomas-Manning. “It was very hard to choose. Their impact is greater than any of them could ever know. These people don’t take praise very well, so it is up to us to praise them.”

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