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Bill would allow Ohio schools more time to give spring tests

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio schools still would have to administer nearly all the usual tests this spring but would have an extra week in April or May to conduct most of those assessments in person under legislation passed by the Ohio House in a bipartisan vote Thursday, weeks before the testing windows begin.

The measure also would allow for canceling the state-required end-of-course exam in U.S. history this year. And it would adjust rules for current high schoolers so final course grades from this year could be used in lieu of end-of-course exams to meet graduation requirements.

Ohio lawmakers initially wanted to seek a federal waiver to skip required tests for the second straight year amid the pandemic, but federal education officials indicated that wouldn’t be an option. They say the tests are needed to help understand and address the pandemic’s impact on learning.

Instead, they’re offering some flexibility on when and how it’s done, and say states can apply to be exempt from certain accountability measures linked to the results. The Ohio proposal would direct state officials to seek that exemption.

The measure would meet federal requirements while providing schools what relief is available in light of the guidance issued by President Joe Biden’s administration, said Rep. Adam Bird, a Republican from New Richmond who sponsored the measure.

Some Democratic lawmakers criticized the updated bill for offering too little relief, and echoed educators and families who have questioned the merits of having the tests just as some students are returning to classrooms after a year of virtual learning. Teachers and administrators have noted they use other evaluations throughout the year to gauge academic progress and can be more responsive with that information than with standardized test results that aren’t released for months.

The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.