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Rep. Robinson: State testing bill imperfect, but immediate action needed to end confusion, help students

Says more needs to be done to give teachers, students tools they need to succeed amid coronavirus-disrupted academic year
March 4, 2021
Phillip M. Robinson, Jr. News

State Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon) Thursday voted in favor of House Bill (HB) 67, legislation to adjust state testing requirements for the 2020-21 school year. Democrats did say, however, that more needs to be done to support students and teachers during the pandemic.

“When this process started with hearings on HB 67, there was quick bipartisan support for the bill in committee, with teachers, parents, students, schools, and most others in agreement that we needed to request waivers for federally mandated testing. Unfortunately, federal government’s decision to not provide these waivers upended this bill, and was disappointing to say the least. 

The sub-bill introduced in response to federal policy is not perfect and does not go far enough, but it provides needed relief and flexibility to our school and students.

I voted yes on HB 67 because it builds on work we’ve already done to remove sanctions and penalties against students and schools from the test results this year and dealing with the hardships of the pandemic,” said Rep. Robinson.

Some provisions of HB 67 include:

·         Waiving end-of-course exam graduation requirements for the 2020-2021 school year, instead using student's final course grade;

·         Extends testing windows and other assessment deadlines, giving flexibility and more time to both students and schools;

·         Creates an exemption for the state mandated American History end-0f-course exam;

·         Permits schools to grant a diploma for this academic year to any student on track to graduate, in consultation with teachers and counselors;

·         Requires the state seeks waivers for federal accountability and school identification requirements.

Democrats have pushed to eliminate state testing requirements due to the continued disruptions and changes in learning environments amid the coronavirus pandemic. Dems introduced legislation earlier this year to cancel the remaining state testing for this academic year and sent a letter Feb. 4 to the Governor, State Superintendent and State Board of Education President urging a waiver for end-of-year state testing. 

Democrats offered several amendments on the floor, including:

·         Extending the testing window to June 30;

·         Allowing for opt-out of testing for students in remote learning;

·         Removing the state testing requirement altogether;

Republicans rejected each of the amendments in party line votes.

After passing the House, the bill moves to the Senate for consideration