Lisa-WoloszynekMarch 25, 2021

Effective immediately, Ohio House Bill 67, which Governor DeWine signed into law on March 20, 2021, extends the state spring testing windows for the 2020-2021 school year, waives the administration of the state American History test, and provides flexibility for graduation requirements. HB 67 also temporarily adjusts the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) guidelines related to school and district assessment scores and report card ratings.

While HB 67 was initially proposed as a measure to exempt Ohio school districts from the administration of state assessments for the 2020-2021 school year, this outcome could not be fully attained due to the U.S. Department of Education’s decision that it will not grant states blanket waivers for federally mandated student testing. However, the final version of HB 67 does provide students and schools the following relief and flexibility:

State Spring Testing

The Superintendent of Public Instruction is granted the authority to designate times for the administration of Ohio spring assessments and extend any other related deadlines. HB 67 specially extends Ohio spring state testing windows as follows:

Online state testing must be administered between:

  • March 22, 2021 through May 7, 2021 for English language arts assessments for all grades; and
  • March 29, 2021 through May 21, 2021 for mathematics, science, and social studies assessments for all grades.

Paper format state testing must be administered between:

  • March 22, 2021 through April 23, 2021 for third-grade English language arts assessments;
  • March 22, 2021 through April 30, 2021 for English language arts assessments for grades four through twelve; and
  • March 29, 2021 through May 14, 2021 for mathematics, science, and social studies assessments for all grades.

Individual scores of all students taking these assessments are to be sent to schools by June 28, 2021.

State American History Test

Public schools will not be required to administer the end-of-course American History examination. Students who receive a scholarship under the Educational Choice Scholarship Program, Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program, or the Pilot Project Scholarship Program during 2020-2021 cannot be denied renewal eligibility for the 2021-2022 school year solely because the student was not administered this test.

Graduation Requirements

HB 67 provides flexibility regarding graduation requirements. Specifically, a school district must grant a high school diploma to a student enrolled in the 12th grade during 2020-2021 (or was on track to graduate in 2020-2021) who has not completed graduation requirements if the student’s principal, in consultation with teachers and counselors, reviews the student’s progress toward meeting the requirements for a diploma. The principal, teachers, and counselors must also determine that the student has successfully completed the curriculum in the student’s high school or the student’s individualized education program. In evaluating this curriculum completion, HB 67 permits the superintendent or chief administrator of the school (in a district that previously adopted a resolution to exceed the state minimum high school curriculum requirements) to elect to require only the state minimum curriculum requirements for the purpose of determining high school graduation for the 2020-2021 school year. This is similar to the flexibility that was provided for the 2019-2020 school year by HB 197.

For the 2020-2021 school year, HB 67 also permits an 11th or 12th grade student to use the final course grade in a course associated with an end-of-course examination in lieu of a score on that examination to satisfy graduation requirements. A final course grade shall be equivalent to a level of skill prescribed as follows:

  • Any “A” letter grade shall be equivalent to an advanced level of skill.
  • Any “B” letter grade shall be equivalent to an accelerated level of skill.
  • Any “C” letter grade shall be equivalent to a proficient level of skill.
  • Any “D” letter grade shall be equivalent to a basic level of skill.
  • Any “F” letter grade shall be equivalent to a limited level of skill.
  • Any “C” letter grade or higher shall be equivalent to a competency score.
  • For a pass/fail final course grade (where a letter grade is not issued):
    • A fail designation shall be equivalent to an “F” letter grade and a limited level of skill.
    • For a pass designation, the student’s district or school shall determine which level of skill is equivalent to the student’s performance in the course. A pass designation also shall be equivalent to a competency score.

For the 2020-2021 school year only, a student may qualify for a high school diploma if the student successfully completes the student’s high school curriculum (or the individualized education program) and earns the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal.

Home Schooling Eligibility

School districts cannot require the parent of any 2020-2021 home schooling student to submit an academic assessment report (typically required) as a condition of the district allowing the student to receive home schooling for the 2021-2022 school year.

School/District State Report Cards

HB 67 directs the ODE not to publish state report card ratings for the 2020-2021 school year or assign an overall letter grade for any school district or building. If a school district was subject to penalties or sanctions for the 2020-2021 school year based on its report card rating from previous years, those penalties or sanctions will remain in effect for the 2021-2022 school year.  Examples include: restructuring provisions, academic distress commissions, buildings identified for Educational Choice Scholarship eligibility, or state or federal identification for comprehensive or targeted support and improvement (districts will continue to receive supports and interventions consistent with their support and improvement plans for the 2021-2022 school year).

If you have questions, please reach out to us here. We are happy to help with any challenges your district may be experiencing.

Lisa Woloszynek is an associate at Walter | Haverfield who focuses her practice on education law. She can be reached at lwoloszynek@walterhav.com and at 216-619-7835.