Those who think there’s an over-use of standardized testing in public schools have signed an online petition sponsored by Ohio University’s Patton College of Education that calls on lawmakers and others to reexamine the public school accountability systems in Ohio.

“We strongly oppose the over-reliance on high-stakes standardized testing to assess student achievement, evaluate teacher effectiveness, and determine school quality,” states the petition.

More than 200 individuals, mostly from Ohio but also from New York, Tennessee, Colorado, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and even Norway, have already signed the petition, which was published earlier this month.

“We consider using high-stakes test scores for high-stakes decisions such as graduation or retention, or to hire, fire, or reward teachers is a misuse of standardized testing,” states the petition.

The concern over the state’s use of standardized tests grew out of legislation that goes into effect next year. One of those policies includes the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, which retains third graders if their reading scores aren’t up to par. Another new policy is the teacher evaluation system. Under this new system, 50 percent of a teacher’s assessment will be based on student test scores.

“As teachers, we are taught to differentiate our instruction and assessments in order to meet the needs of all of our students,” stated Sabrina Stalder, agricultural science teacher at Athens High School.

Standardized tests, she continued, don’t meet the needs of all students, yet they’re used to evaluate both students and teachers.

“If teachers are going to be held to certain standards, then the state should be held to those same standards as well,” Stalder added.

Renee Middleton, dean of the college, approved sponsoring the petition, but she said it was an issue brought to her attention by her faculty and students.

“We’re not opposed to standardized testing,” Middleton explained. “We oppose the overuse and misuse, and I agree with them 100 percent.”

The overuse and misuse of standardized testing, states the petition, serves to widen racial/ethnic and income-based gaps, negatively impacts curriculum and instruction, creates adverse consequences for students and educators, and harms schools.

“Standardized tests are a single snapshot of a student’s performance on a given day. Period!” wrote Susan Williford, a fourth-grade teacher at Morrison-Gordon Elementary School. “They are being used to measure things they were never intended to measure. In addition, they have been given far too much power, weight and significance; they are being used to drive the education of our students.”

Petition signers are calling on the governor, state legislature and Ohio state education boards and administrators to “reexamine public school accountability systems in this state, and to develop a system based on multiple forms of assessment.”

Those interested in learning more about the online petition can read about it on the college’s website: http://www.cehs.ohio.edu.

asmedley@athensmessenger.com; Twitter @ariansmessenger

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