Spring 2021 Testing

Spring 2021 Testing

As Ohio’s students and educators work through the unique challenges of the 2020-2021 school year, many questions regarding state testing requirements have been raised—specifically regarding Ohio’s State Tests and end-of-course exams. These tests are required by federal and state law. No legislation has been enacted, up to this point in time, that alters these legal requirements for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Quick Links

Printable/downloadable version of the spring test schedule

In October and November 2020, most districts were able to administer the fall third grade English language arts tests to most students. Districts also were able to administer fall end-of-course tests to high school students. During times of change and pandemic-related uncertainties, reliable information and quality supports are more important than ever. Districts and schools are using their own district-level data and information to act on student-centric decisions to drive school or district improvement. Data also is key to unlocking many pieces of the equity puzzle. State-level data, including data from state tests, can provide insight into statewide trends and phenomena that can help inform state policymaking and action. The Ohio Department of Education recently published “Data Insights: How the Pandemic is Affecting the 2020-2021 School Year.” This new webpage includes fall 2020 student enrollment and assessment data, as well as multiple resources educators and families can use to support students.  

As districts prepare for spring testing, the Ohio Department of Education emphasizes that districts first and foremost should be attentive to the safety of students and staff. Assessments should occur only if they can be administered safely. Safety may be determined locally at the student, teacher, building, district or county levels, depending on the circumstances and in consultation with the local department of health. Parental determination relative to safety also should be considered and respected. 
State testing includes statutory requirements around data reporting, as well as technical requirements to ensure valid administration. Many districts are working to return to in-person education this winter and spring and have expressed concerns regarding students being required to test shortly after returning. The Department shares this concern and encourages schools and districts to prioritize students becoming acclimated to in-person education by taking advantage of the flexibility in the testing windows. State testing windows already have significant built-in flexibility, which provides schools and districts discretion in scheduling. For example, while some districts traditionally begin testing early in the window, others have decided to begin testing later in April. Some districts are adjusting their schedules away from separate subject area windows to overlapping schedules to reduce the overall amount of testing days. To be responsive to parent and educator concerns, the Department is extending flexibility to the extent possible while upholding state and federal statutory requirementsThis flexibility includes extensions of some previously scheduled windows as outlined below. 

U.S. Department of Education Guidance 

During the early days of the pandemic and related school closures, the U.S. Department of Education allowed states to seek one-year waivers from the Every Student Succeeds Act's (ESSA) testing and accountability requirements. The Ohio General Assembly subsequently passed emergency legislation canceling the spring 2020 administration of Ohio's State Tests. Accordingly, the Ohio Department of Education sought and received a federal waiver for the 2019-2020 school year. 

The U.S. Department of Education shared specific guidance last fall clearly noting states should not anticipate similar waivers being granted again for the 2020-2021 school year. Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Education provided limited flexibility to accountability requirements through an addendum process for a state’s ESSA plan. See the “Accountability Impacts” section below for more detail. 

As circumstances around the pandemic and leadership at the U.S. Department of Education are changing, the Ohio Department of Education will notify schools and districts of any changes in requirements that result from future federal guidance or state legislation. 

Ohio’s State Tests 

Typically, the spring administration of Ohio’s State Tests takes place in two separate windows. One window for English language arts and one window for math, science and social studies testing. The windows originally were scheduled as English language arts tests: March 22-April 23 and math, science and social studies tests: March 29-May 7.

English Language Arts: 

Test Type Date
Online March 22-April 30
Paper March 22-April 23 

Mathematics, Science and Social Studies: 

Test Type Date
Online March 29-May 14 
Paper March 29-May 7

To provide additional time for districts to administer the state tests, the following updates have been made to the existing windows for online testing: 

  • The online administration window of the grades 3-high school English language arts tests has been extended one week and now will run from March 22-April 30.  
  • The online administration window of the mathematics, science and social studies tests has been extended one week and now will run from March 29-May 14

Because of the additional time required to return, process and score paper tests, the testing windows for paper administration remain the same: 

  • The paper administration window of the English language arts tests is unchanged and will run from March 22-April 23
  • The paper administration window of the mathematics, science and social studies tests is unchanged and will run from March 29-May 7

Score reporting will meet the statutorily required deadlines, with results of the grade 3 English language arts test released by June 15 and results for other tests by June 30. More detail on reporting dates will be released as available. 

Considerations for Administering Spring Ohio’s State Tests 

Based on the current status of federal and state law, districts should be making plans for students to take the relevant spring Ohio’s State Tests and end-of-course exams. Due to technology and test security requirements, there is no option to remotely administer state tests. All testing must be conducted in person with a test administrator who is an employee of the district with a license, certificate or permit issued by the Ohio Department of Education. Districts should prioritize safety while putting forth a good-faith effort to communicate with parents and students about the importance of assessments and the requirement to conduct testing on-site. 

For districts operating with hybrid models, plans for testing likely will depend on how many days students are in a particular building. Districts offering remote instruction should consider creative options to have students on-site for relevant testing. Districts also can be flexible about test administration locations. Students need not take tests in the buildings to which they are assigned for attendance purposes.1 Fall 2020 testing went generally smoothly because schools and districts were creative and innovative in finding ways to safely and efficiently facilitate testing.  

Below are examples from three districts regarding how they plan to implement testing:

  • In one district, students attending remotely are being asked to contact their home schools to choose testing times within the district’s 15-day window. The plan is to test the students in socially distanced classrooms.  
  • Another district is planning to bus remote learners (not during the normal route) to school on Wednesday and Thursday to test. These students will be tested in the gymnasium where they can practice safe social distancing.  
  • One district currently has “remote Mondays,” where all students, even those attending in the hybrid model, are at home. The district plans to bring in students on Mondays during the test window and use all space in buildings to test students in smaller groups.  
  • Ohio’s State Tests have two parts, and districts usually split the tests up over two separate days. Districts may choose to continue this practice (if students are in the building more than once per week), or they may choose to administer both parts of the test in the same day.


Defining Consecutive School Days 

Traditionally, “consecutive school days” has been considered as “days when school is in session.” In order to provide flexibility, the Department is clarifying the 15-consecutive-school-day requirement for the spring 2021 administration. 

  • Hybrid model: In a hybrid model, a district may determine that a “consecutive school day” could apply when students are physically present in the building. Days when students are attending remotely will not count toward the 15 consecutive days. This flexibility may be applied to each cohort. For example, if the district has Cohort A attending school Monday and Tuesday and Cohort B attending school Thursday and Friday, with alternating Wednesdays, Cohort A may have a 15-consecutive-school-day window and Cohort B may have a separate 15-consecutive-school-day window, only counting the days where the students are physically present in the building.  
  • Remote model: Districts are encouraged to establish a 15-consecutive-day window to test remote students to the extent possible. Students who are attending remotely will only have days counted when they are in the buildings to test. This window may be different from students attending in person or hybrid. Schools may choose to:  
    • Schedule appointment times for students to come in and test, either individually or in socially distanced groups;  
    • Utilize days when other students may not be in the buildings to bring students in to test (for example, if there is one day per week when all students are virtual or if the district is fully virtual);  
    • Use alternative locations that may allow for students to test in larger groups but remain physically distant (such as in gymnasiums, auditoriums or cafeterias) as long as the environment is appropriate for testing (quiet, no distractions);  
    • Test some students in other buildings (for example, elementary students at a middle school) when they are not being used for in-person instruction.  


Different Windows within a District Due to Pandemic-related Issues 

Historically, test windows have been set at a district level and applied to all buildings within that district. While the Department encourages districts to continue this practice, districts experiencing pandemic-related situations that may impact this policy (such as quarantines affecting one or multiple classrooms or buildings, building closures) are permitted to exercise flexibility to ensure students receive an opportunity to test. Questions regarding this flexibility should be directed to the Office of Assessment. 

Ohio English Language Proficiency Assessment (OELPA) 

The Ohio English Language Proficiency Assessment (OELPA) is critical to the services schools must provide English learners. The Department is announcing some changes for this year’s administration to support schools in meeting their obligation of annually assessing all English learners’ English language proficiency with the OELPA. The changes include the following:

  • OELPA Test Window Extension. The test window for the OELPA was originally scheduled for Feb. 1-March 26, 2021. The OELPA test window is extended by four weeks and will now take place Feb. 1-April 23. OELPA can be administered anytime during the test window. Districts should begin testing early in the test window to ensure students can be tested before the test window closes.  
  • OELPA Speaking Test Administration. The Department will allow districts to administer the 2021 OELPA speaking test to groups of students instead of requiring 1:1 administration of that domain. When scheduling administrations, districts should consider that students taking the speaking test will speak their responses aloud. To maintain test validity and security, the speaking test must be administered so students cannot hear one another and recordings do not pick up others’ voices. Thus, districts should test students in large, quiet spaces and/or in groups as small as the test window and scheduling allow. The Department recommends that, if possible, schools administer the speaking test one-to-one, with one student and one test administrator. 

As a reminder, the following flexibilities are available to districts administering the OELPA:  

  • Districts may schedule the four OELPA domain tests (reading, writing, listening and speaking) in any order; there is no prescribed order of administration.  
  • Districts may schedule the domain tests one per day or multiple domain tests per day. If students take multiple domain tests in one day, districts should allow for enough time for each test to be started and completed in the same day.  

The Department has received several questions about presumptive English learners and the OELPA. Presumptive English learners, students who are presumed to be English learners because they have not taken the Ohio English Language Proficiency Screener (OELPS), should be administered the OELPA. Presumptive English learners are English learners and, per federal guidance, districts are to include such students in the annual English language proficiency assessment. Ideally, districts will administer the OELPS to presumptive English learners before administering the OELPA; however, an inability to administer the OELPS before the OELPA does not affect an English learner’s eligibility or requirement to take the OELPA. Districts may use the results of the OELPA to affirm the fact the student is not proficient and therefore remains an English learner or exit the student as proficient if the student scores proficient (with OELPA scores of 4s and 5s in all non-exempted domains). 

Alternate Assessment for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities (AASCD) 

The test window for the Alternate Assessment for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities (AASCD) was originally scheduled for Feb. 2-March 19, 2021. The AASCD test window is extended and now will run Feb. 2-March 26. Standard setting will take place after administration, with recommendations scheduled to go to the State Board of Education beginning in June 2021. 

ACT Testing 

Additional flexibility for spring 2021 allows districts to administer the ACT during any of the paper or online testing windows as specified below: 

  • Window 1:
    • Paper Testing – Feb. 23, 2021 
    • Online Testing – Feb. 23-25 and March 2-4, 2021 
    • Accommodated Testing – Feb. 23-26 and March 1-5, 2021 
  • Window 2:
    • Paper Testing – March 9, 2021 
    • Online Testing – March 9-11 and March 16-18, 2021 
    • Accommodated Testing – March 9-12 and March 15-19, 2021 
  • Window 3:
    • Paper Testing – March 23, 2021 
    • Online Testing – March 23-25 and March 30-31 and April 1, 2021 
    • Accommodated Testing – March 23-26 and March 29-31 and April 1-2, 2021 

SAT Testing 

The College Board also allows SAT additional test dates for spring 2021 according to their guidelines: 

  • Paper Testing – March 3 OR Online Testing – March 3-5 
  • Paper and Online Accommodated Testing – March 3-16 
  • Paper Makeup Testing – March 24 
  • Online Makeup Testing – March 24-26 


  • Paper Testing – April 13 OR Online Testing – April 13-15 
  • Paper and Online Accommodated Testing – April 13-26 
  • Paper Makeup Testing – April 27 
  • Online Makeup Testing – April 27-29 

Flexible SAT testing dates follow: 

  • Paper Testing – March 24, April 13 and April 27 
  • Online Testing – March 24-26, April 13-15 and April 27-29 

Assessment for Dropout Prevention and Recovery Programs 

Renaissance Learning has been awarded the contract for administering the norm-referenced assessments required by Ohio Revised Code section 3314.017(C)(4) to determine growth for Dropout Prevention and Recovery Programs. Renaissance Learning’s Star Reading and Math tests will be administered in two windows this spring. Schools should aim to test as many students as possible in both administrations. 

  • First Window: Feb. 16-March 26 
  • Second Window: April 12-May 28 

Per House Bill 409, the Ohio School Report Cards will be published in fall 2021 with all available data to be used for review and improvement planning, but there will be no ratings for those schools receiving the dropout prevention and recovery report card. Additionally, the demotion for test participation that is applied to the Progress component will not apply this year in the absence of ratings.   
The results from the test will be used to calculate student growth from this school year and, more importantly, will provide baseline performance data for teachers to use to support students. This data also will inform growth measures in future years. 

Accountability Impacts 

The U.S. Department of Education is allowing states to make limited, one-year adjustments to certain accountability elements of the approved Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan through an addendum process. This process does not provide for a blanket waiver from federal accountability and report card requirements. The adjustments are limited, technical adjustments based on the inability to implement parts of the plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic (such as prior-year assessment data being unavailable).  

The intent of Ohio’s proposed addendum is to limit the consequences of any data generated during this school year to the extent allowable and make the relevant technical adjustments to report card calculations.  

The federal addendum proposal can be reviewed on the Ohio Department of Education’s ESSA webpage. Once submitted, the Ohio Department of Education will await official approval to implement the adjustments from the U.S. Department of Education.  

Additional information on the impact of state legislation and the ESSA addendum to this school year’s report cards will be posted in the coming weeks.  

Ohio’s school and district leaders should continue prioritizing the safety of students, employees and their communities, respecting the decisions being made by parents in response to the pandemic and making good-faith efforts to meet testing requirements amid local context and conditions. 


Please contact the Ohio Department of Education at statetests@education.ohio.gov for questions about Ohio's testing system. For questions on accountability, contact accountability@education.ohio.gov

1The Test Delivery System requires that the student and test administrator are associated with the same attending school in the Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE). For example, if a district wants to test a portion of its high school students in another building (such as a middle school gymnasium), the students still would be pre-identified to the school they attend, and the test administrator must be associated with the same attending school in TIDE. Test administrators can be associated with multiple schools.   

Last Modified: 2/9/2021 6:18:20 PM