Ohio House Bill 40 (HB-40) would waive mandated state assessments for this school year

By Chuck Gibson 

LOVELAND, OH (February 18, 2021) – During another marathon Loveland Board of Education meeting Tuesday, February 16, the five-member board unanimously approved a resolution to support Ohio State legislation which would waive mandated state assessments for the current school year.

Brad Neavin, Interim Superintendent, LCSD (File Photo)

Acting Superintendent for Loveland City School District Bradley Neavin made the recommendation to the board during the Superintendent’s report within the opening hour of the nearly six-hour meeting Tuesday night. Neavin presented the significant language of Ohio House Bill 40 (HB-40) to the board before making his recommendation for the board to approve a resolution in support of the pending legislation.

Key language Neavin cited from HB-40 was as follows here:

WHEREAS, existing Ohio law mandates that public school districts administer numerous standardized state assessments to Ohio public school students; and

WHEREAS, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Education of the Loveland City School District (the “Board”) believes it is in the best interest of parents and students that its teachers focus their time and resources on the necessary classroom lessons and concepts to ensure the current and future success of students instead of preparing for mandated state assessments; and

WHEREAS, some members of the 134th General Assembly share the Board’s aforementioned belief and have introduced legislation with respect to the waiver of mandated state assessments for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Leaning on his own experience as a school administrator, Neavin made several points regarding the standard state mandated assessments including the scheduled testing window, the grades (3-8) as well as end of course exams for high school students, and the impact on student learning (each student is usually engaged 12-15 hours). The big picture point is the amount of valuable instructional time taken away from each student. He also pointed to the fact teachers “welcome all data to inform their instruction,” but the effects on learning due to the pandemic will likely seriously flaw any data which may be gleaned from state testing this year. He expressed concern for students who have been learning remotely suddenly being required by state testing to go into the school site they have purposely avoided as a precaution for their own health and safety.

“These are difficult and unique times and requires a flexible response,” said Neavin, “a response I feel strongly the General Assembly should take to relieve this year’s testing and report card requirements and allow us to use this precious time for true teaching and learning. So, I respectfully recommend the Board pass this resolution to support House Bill 40 and consider supporting other legislation such as HB 67.”

Remote LCSD School Board meeting 2/16/21 (Chuck Gibson)

Discussion by the board followed his recommendation. Board Vice President Kevin Dougherty made a statement about his belief in the importance of the testing and his trust in the experience and recommendation of acting superintendent Neavin.

“I’m in agreement with Brad’s recommendation we support legislation to suspend state testing for this year,” said Dougherty.

Board member Dr. Eric Schwetschenau followed with commentary on the idea that maybe this year is even a more critical time to measure the students through state assessment testing. In response to Dr. Schwetschenau’ s comments, Neavin talked about the value of the continued testing and assessment teachers are doing right now in “real time” versus state testing which won’t provide results and useful information for instruction until summer, or even fall. At the close of the discussion, Board President, Dr. Kathy Lorenz offered a final thought before moving on.

“I would encourage the administration to continue to provide as much information and data to the board and to the public as to how we are doing,” said Lorenz.

Following the addressing of other matters on the meeting agenda, the board came back with a motion (which was seconded) to approve the recommended resolution to support HB-40 and the waiver of state mandated assessments for this school year. After some additional clarifying discussion, the board voted unanimously in favor of the resolution to support HB-40 as recommended by acting LCSD Superintendent Brad Neavin.

“I appreciate and am proud of the Board of Education wisdom in taking this important legislative position,” said Neavin. “As I’ve said on many occasions, while we value any data that assists us in informing our educational practices, we feel at this time we can better serve our students by regaining this valuable instructional time.”

Neavin also reported on his progress in addressing the issue he feels is most important to the district right now; that of engaging the community. By the end of this week (end of day Friday, February 19,) he will have held 30 “coffees” – which he defines as a series of meetings with an individual or a small group to gather their insights and perspectives on the district and the role it plays in the community overall. Neavin has already met with members of administration, faculty, staff and many community stakeholders offering them a chance to be heard. He plans more.

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