Fall 2021 Testing Update

In school year 2020-2021, most districts were able to administer all state tests to their students. As a result of considerable planning among district leaders, Ohio far outpaced surrounding states in test participation rates.

Data on students’ educational experiences are more important than ever in supporting student-centric decision-making. A recent report, Data Insights: Evidence of the Pandemic’s Impact on Students in 2020-2021, provides information on the pandemic’s impact using statewide data collected through the spring of 2021, including the spring 2021 state assessments.  

As districts prepare for fall 2021 testing, the safety ofstudents and staff should continue to be the top priority. 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 should also be considered and respected. 

Most districts have returned to five-day, in-person education and should be able to return to a pre-pandemic administration of state testing. However, the Ohio Department of Education understands some flexibilities may still be necessary.


U.S. Department of Education Guidance 

During the early days of the pandemic and the related school closures, the U.S. Department of Education allowed states to seek one-year waivers from the Every Student Succeeds Act (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. 

In school year 2020-2021, the U.S. Department of Education did not grant further waivers from state assessment but provided some limited one-year technical flexibilities related to federal accountability and school improvement support requirements.

At this time, Ohio does not anticipate additional federal flexibility for school year 2021-2022, and districts and schools should anticipate administering all required tests at all grade levels, including the fall grade 3 English language arts test and high school end-of-course tests.

Ohio’s State Tests 

The Ohio Department of Education has set test windows for fall 2021 as follows:

Grade 3 English Language Arts

  • Districts will have five consecutive school days, including makeups, between Oct. 18 to Nov. 5 to administer the grade 3 English language arts test. 

High school End-Of-Course Tests

  • District will have 15 consecutive school days, including makeups, between Nov. 29 and Jan. 14 to administer the high school end-of-course tests.


Based on current federal and state law, districts should plan for students to take the relevant fall Ohio’s State Tests. 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. 

Because most districts are in a five-day, in-person instructional model, it is anticipated that schools will be able to follow pre-pandemic administration procedures.

However, the Ohio Department of Education will continue to offer certain flexibilities based on district need. 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 School year 2020-2021 testing generally went smoothly because schools and districts were creative and innovative in finding ways to facilitate testing safely and efficiently.  

Below are examples from districts that were able to successfully administer tests last year:
  • In one district, students attending remotely were asked to contact their assigned schools to choose testing times within the district’s 15-day window. The students were then tested in socially distanced classrooms.
  • Another district bused remote learners (not during the normal route) to school on Wednesday and Thursday to test. These students were tested in the gymnasium, where they could practice safe social distancing.  
  • One district had “remote Mondays,” where all students, even those attending in the hybrid model, were at home. The district brought in students on Mondays during the test window and used all available space in the 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.


While most Ohio schools have resumed five-day in-person operations, there may be situations due to the pandemic where districts or schools must transition to hybrid or remote models of instruction. The Ohio Department of Education will continue to provide flexibility for these models.
Traditionally, “consecutive school days” has been considered to mean “days when school is in session.” To provide flexibility, the Ohio Department of Education is clarifying the five or 15 consecutive school day requirement if the school is in a hybrid or remote model of instruction.
  • 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 five or 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 five or 15-consecutive-school-day window, and Cohort B may have a separate five or 15-consecutive-school-day window, only counting the days when the students are present physically in the building.  
  • Remote model or districts with Online Learning Schools: Districts are encouraged to establish a five or 15-consecutive-day window to test remote students to the extent possible. Students who are enrolled in an Online Learning School or otherwise completing their educational program in a remote or virtual setting will have days counted only 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.   


Historically, test windows have been set at the district level and applied to all buildings within that district. Although the Ohio Department of Education encourages districts to continue this practice, districts experiencing pandemic-related situations that impact this policy (such as quarantines affecting one or multiple classrooms or buildings, building closures) are permitted to exercise flexibility to ensure students have an opportunity to test. 
  • Quarantined students: Students who are placed in quarantine due to testing positive for COVID-19 or for exposure are permitted to test upon their return from quarantine if the state’s testing window is still open. This includes students who were quarantined for the length of the district’s five-day or fifteen-day test window. 



Please contact the Ohio Department of Education at statetests@education.ohio.gov for questions about Ohio's testing system. For questions on accountability and report cards, please contact accountability@education.ohio.gov.
1 The 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 preidentified 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.   

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Last Modified: 10/28/2021 10:39:48 AM