Thursday, February 28, 2002

Questions, answers about Ohio proficiency tests

        QUESTION: What are the Ohio Proficiency tests?

        ANSWER: The Ohio proficiency tests are statewide tests to measure skills in science, writing, reading and citizenship.

        Q: Who takes them?

        A: All fourth-, sixth- and ninth-graders.

        Q: Why are the tests considered important?

        A: Results are part of an overall rating for each Ohio public school district on its report card from the Ohio Department of Education. Each district is rated on how it fares in proficiency tests, attendance and graduation rates.

        Q: What's new about the tests this year?

        A: The 12th-grade test has been eliminated, which means the number of standards on which districts are rated (currently 27), drops to 22 on the 2003 report card. Also, the tests this year will be given on alternate days over a two-week period for fourth- and sixth-graders, allowing for a break between each test.

        Q: What's the status of Ohio's fourth-grade reading guarantee as measured by the fourth-grade reading proficiency test?

        A: A law that went into effect in June 2001 revised the guarantee to:

        • Add “basic” and “below basic” rankings to the existing “proficient” and “advanced” rankings on the reading test.

        • Expand options for students who score below “proficient.”

        • Develop district policies to provide intervention for students who score “below basic.”

        • Provide more chances for students to take the test.

        • Replace the fourth-grade reading test with a third-grade reading test in the 2003-2004 school year.

        Q: Are the tests changing?

A: Ohio is phasing out the proficiency tests — which measure results against a set standard — in favor of achievement and diagnostic tests. Achievement tests in reading will be given in third grade; math and writing tests will be given in fourth grade; and social studies and sciences tests will be given in fifth grade. Diagnostic tests will be given annually to students in other grades and to grades 3, 4 and 5 in subjects not covered by achievement tests. Diagnostic test results do not have to be reported to the state, but are for district, teacher, parent and student information to determine where more help is needed.

        Q: How will the federal education bill requirements for testing affect the state tests?

        A: Ohio is in a good position because it already has a testing system. In June, the state will know the rules of the federal bill.

        Q: What happens to the ninth-grade proficiency test?

        A: This year's eighth-graders are the last class required to pass the ninth-grade proficiency test to graduate from high school. Ohio ninth-grade proficiency tests are being phased out in favor of the new Ohio Graduation Tests. The first class of students that will be responsible for passing these new graduation tests is the class of 2007 — this year's seventh-graders.

        All 10th-graders will take the Ohio Graduation Tests in reading and mathematics in March 2003 and March 2004 to meet federal Title I requirements. Scores from March 2003 and March 2004 will not count for individuals (as graduation requirements) or for school districts (local report card rankings).

        Q: What's different about the new Ohio Graduation Tests?

A: The tests are aligned to match subject content through the end of 10th grade.

        Q: What is the purpose of the school district report cards?

A: To show parents and other community members how well their schools are doing, where they are succeeding and where there is room for improvement.

        Q: How are districts rated?

A: The 2003 report card will assign districts one of five ratings:

        • Excellent (21 or 22 standards met).

        • Effective (17 to 20 standards met).

        • Continuous improvement (11 to 16 standards met).

        • Academic watch (seven to 10 standards met).

        • Academic emergency (Fewer than seven standards met).

        Q: What are the 22 standards?

A: They are the percentage of students passing citizenship, math, reading, writing and science portions of the fourth-grade proficiency (5 standards), sixth-grade portions (5 standards), and percentage of students passing the ninth-grade proficiency tests at the end of ninth grade (5 standards) and at the end of tenth grade (5 standards); district attendance rate (1 standard); and district graduation rate (1 standard).

        Source: Ohio Department of Education


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