Today, state Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) applauded the Ohio Senate’s passage of House Bill 409, which contains multiple provisions from Senate Bill 358, joint-sponsored by Senators Fedor and Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville), to address the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Ohio schools.
The provisions from Senate Bill 358 will extend a number of measures passed in the spring to address the pandemic’s effects on school districts. These include waiving state testing where possible, freezing state report card scores and new state takeovers and extending student promotions and graduation flexibility during the 2020-21 school year.
“We simply cannot expect our teachers and students to operate as if this school year is the same as any other school year,” Fedor said. “This legislation is even more important as Covid-19 cases continue to spike drastically in our state and, increasingly, in our schools.”
Some provisions of Senate Bill 358, including prohibiting the use of student growth data on teacher, principal and counselor evaluations, holding school districts harmless when they could not administer fall testing, extending virtual public meetings into July 2021 and granting flexibility in administering school food programs, were included in House Bill 404, which passed the Senate in November. House Bill 404 was signed into law by the governor on November 22.
The long-term academic impact of remote or hybrid learning is not yet known, but is expected to disproportionately affect students of color and low-income students, increasing inequities. A new study by the Brookings Institute found that students may have returned to school in fall 2020 with less than 50% of the learning gains in mathematics from the previous school year. In lower grades, students may be nearly a full year behind in math compared to normal conditions.
“Rather than requiring schools to spend their time administering tests, we should allow them to spend that time teaching and learning to ensure all students receive the best education possible,” Fedor said. “This virus has required school districts and families to rework their entire lives at the drop of a hat. Any support we can provide will alleviate some of the anxieties they continue to face.”
House Bill 409 now returns to the House, where it will be voted on for concurrence.