Reynoldsburg School Board questions state testing

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By Sarah Thomas
Staff Writer

The Reynoldsburg City Schools Board of Education feels the public school state testing accountability system is flawed and is seeking a return to local control by school districts.

Board Vice President Debbie Dunlap proposed a resolution regarding the issue after getting the idea from other districts. She said other state representatives are also leading the discussion and wanted Reynoldsburg to become a part of the effort.

The board passed a resolution calling for a reduction in state testing and “an accountability system to truly measure how well public schools are fulfilling their primary role of developing educated, productive, well-rounded citizens in a manner that is understandable to all parties involved.”

The resolution states that federal laws, such as No Child Left Behind, have taken away local control of school districts and an over-abundance of state testing is not an effective tool in student growth and school accountability.

Board member Neil Whitman felt the language in the resolution was emotional and vague, but Board President Joe Begeny replied that the other side is not afraid to use this language, so the board shouldn’t be afraid to use it, too.

Board member Rob Barga opposed the resolution, saying he feels the standardized tests show averages of students that can be used as a guide for teachers and schools. He said they are essential for producing well-rounded students and ensure that students have the same foundation for teachers to build off.

Begeny countered that, saying teachers don’t get the information from state tests until those students are gone, plus they don’t get all the information needed. He said the amount of state testing, and the number of days it takes to complete them on computers, takes away technology resources that students can be using for other projects in the classroom.

“A lot of these tests also tell you what everyone else knows, the higher the scores, usually the higher socio-economic backgrounds,” said Begeny. “And so, what you are doing is holding students and their teachers accountable for the money their parents make and the neighborhoods in which they live.”

Barga did agree that state funding should not be tied to test results.

“So many students and teachers cry taking these tests,” board member Jeni Quesenberry said. “They don’t know what has happened the night before, but still have to force them to take the test. It [tests] doesn’t tell what our students know or teachers have taught.”

“They are not successful in life because of a test score,” Begeny said. “They are successful because people give them the drive and the opportunity to move on and persevere through labor and challenges.”

After a failed motion to postpone the resolution, it passed three to two, with Begeny, Dunlap and Quesenberry voting for it, and Whitman and Barga against. The board sent the resolution on to State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria, the State Board of Education, and the Ohio Legislature.
Begeny said the resolution was not perfect, but it is sending a message to those who make the laws concerning

testing, funding, and school accountability.

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