K-12 funding boost headed to districts, ACT/SAT opt-out bill headed to the House

By: - May 27, 2021 12:40 am

12 year old girl wearing a reusable, protective face mask in classroom while working on school work at her desk. Photo from Getty Images.

The Ohio legislature approved COVID-19 pandemic-related measures to bring more federal monies to K-12 schools, and the House will review another bill to reduce testing requirements for students.

The Ohio Senate unanimously passed House Bill 170 on Wednesday, with the House promptly agreeing to the Senate’s version of the bill the same day.

“Parents, teachers and students in the communities that we represent are depending on this,” said state Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, during the Senate session on Wednesday.

The bill provides a total of $857 million to the Ohio Department of Education in federal CARES Act funding to K-12 schools.

Included in the bill is $7 million for duties performed by the Ohio National Guard during the pandemic, and $173 million for the state Department of Health to expand COVID-19 testing and support.

Another $154.9 million will go to the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools, and $633 million to the Elementary and Secondary Relief (ESSER) funds.

The bill also permits the Auditor of State to audit the spending by the Ohio Department of Education and each school district for money appropriated for fiscal year 2021 and funds received via COVID-19 stimulus packages, the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan.

A piece of legislation helping students and their schools avoid using standardized testing as a metric of learning is on its way for a full House full vote.

House Bill 82 was quickly passed out of the House Primary & Secondary Committee this week, moving forward a measure to allow students to opt out of state-funded administration of the ACT and SATs.

There was no discussion of the bill before it was passed out of committee, but the bill had the support of the Ohio School Counselor Association and the Ohio Education Association. The bill’s sponsors, GOP state Reps. Jon Cross and Don Jones, said the stress of the tests on students and a trend in higher education of making ACT/SAT scores optional for admission make state spending on the tests unnecessary.

Currently, all high school juniors are required to take a college admission test as part of the state’s College and Work Ready Assessment System. The state pays $40 per student for the ACT and $36.35 per student for the SAT, according to an analysis by the Legislative Service Commission.

That amounts to $4.9 million in state spending in fiscal year 2019, most of which was used for the ACT.

Should the bill be passed and go into effect during the 2021-22 school year, the first class to be allowed to opt out would be the class of 2026.



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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.