Friday, September 22, 2000

Overhaul Ohio's proficiency test, group demands

Pressure brought to bear on lawmakers

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A backlash against student testing is prompting forums and rallies across the state, where parents and educators plan to tell legislators why the Ohio Proficiency Test should be revamped.

        A rally Saturday at Harmony School at Swifton Commons will gather parents and the community to speak with legislators from 1-3 p.m. about how the test affects learning.

        From 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, forums sponsored by the Ohio Education Association will take place in all 33 Ohio Senate districts.

        The test, given each year to students in grades 4, 6, 9 and 12, is used to advance students to the next grade and assess basic skills in reading and math.

        Students must pass the ninth-grade test to graduate.

        Karen Imbus, a parent at North Avondale Montessori, said the exam is incompatible with the Montessori way of education, which allows students to be creative and learn at their own pace.

        “The test is based on fear,” Mrs. Imbus said. “It divorces the meaning from what students are learning.”

        The Ohio Education Asso ciation organized the forums to focus public attention on making the tests more effective for students.

        Members want the state to align the tests with the state curriculum and state standards.

        Bonnie McMurray, Senate District 7 liaison for the association, said the group is not against accountability but wants to see more than one test on one day.

        “We are seeing a backlash,” Ms. McMurray said. “Teachers and parents are seeing the effects on the kids that they don't feel are all positive, or really increase achievement.”

        A survey of Ohio eighth-grade teachers released Wednesday found many see the ninth-grade exams as an intrusion into their classrooms. Nearly half said the tests either caused no change or decreased student learning.

        Mrs. Imbus said she is expressing her displeasure with the tests because they seem to go against the trend toward choice.

        “I'm frustrated because education choice is the mantra of the day,” she said. “I want to see alternative ways of measuring student growth.

        “You don't teach children by testing them all the time.”


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