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AREA LEGISLATORS DISCUSS SCHOOL TESTS

Kathy Hollabaugh doesn't object to state proficiency tests altogether. But how about limiting the testing to material presented to students, she said.

She was one of the few parents among about 50 teachers last night who turned out for a forum attended by area legislators on state proficiency testing put on by the Ohio Education Association at Springfield High School.

When her daughter was in eighth grade, she found algebra questions on a state proficiency test even though she hadn't had any algebra instruction at Springfield Junior High School. She failed the math portion, even though she is an A and B student.

"I feel that with a standardized test it should be based on what they are learning in school," she said. "Those questions were just not appropriate."

A common complaint was that state-ordered tests were asking students to answer questions about more complicated subjects than what is needed to measure basic subject proficiency.
State proficiency testing at the high school level began in 1994, with provisions by the General Assembly to expand it to lower grade levels.

Sharon Calhoun, a mother of two elementary school children in the Washington Local School District, said, "I just feel to have a fourth-grade proficiency test is totally ridiculous."

Her daughter, despite being an honor roll student at Trilby Elementary all last year, failed the reading portion of the 4th grade state proficiency test in March.

Had new provisions of the state's proficiency test law been in effect a year ago, her daughter's failure of the reading portion would have meant the girl would have to repeat fourth grade unless the school's teacher and principal interceded.

"How can you tell me that a student who makes all A's, is on the honor roll, and does her homework, and can read - this just doesn't make sense," Ms. Calhoun said.

State Rep. Lynn Olman (R., Maumee) said a host of measures are before legislators to correct an assortment of problems with the tests, including one for a moratorium on all state tests until they are re-evaluated.

He expects the General Assembly to adopt some changes to the state testing through some sort of omnibus bill when it reconvenes in November.

The tests have strong support among many legislators who adopted them after many firms complained that high school graduates lacked basic skills to succeed in the workplace.
"There is not a big push in Columbus to completely abandon proficiency testing," State Rep. James Mettler (R., Toledo) said.

Most Ohioans support state proficiency tests, according to a poll released yesterday by Governor Taft's commission studying ways to improve education.

Of the 1,002 Ohioans questioned, 70 per cent approved of the state's requirement that high school students must pass a proficiency test to graduate, and 62 per cent approved of a law taking effect in 2001 that will retain students if they fail the reading portion of the fourth-grade proficiency test.

The poll also found: 79 per cent support the state's focus on raising academic standards; 83 per cent believe the state needs standards in core subjects, such as math and English; 35 per cent say there is the right amount of testing in elementary and middle schools, while 30 per cent say there is too much and 19 per cent say there is not enough; 39 per cent believe there is the right amount of testing in high schools, 32 per cent say there is not enough testing, and 14 per cent say there is too much.

All content © 2000 THE BLADE, TOLEDO, OHIO and may not be republished without permission.

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