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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
MUSA Council
MUSA Council

Joined: May 16 2008
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: TESTING..TESTING..1 2 3
    Posted: Feb 13 2015 at 3:56pm

Posted: 7:00 a.m. Friday, Feb. 13, 2015


Some parents opting kids out of state tests

By Jeremy P. Kelley and Eric Schwartzberg

Staff Writer

    With Ohio’s new, harder state tests just days away, parents and schools are weighing a relatively new phenomenon — families refusing to have their students take the annual state exams.

    The Ohio Department of Education advised schools last week that they are required to test all students in specified grades and subjects, and that there may be consequences “for the child, the child’s teacher, and the school and district” if students refuse.

    Nevertheless, the Operation Opt-Out Ohio Facebook page has hundreds of comments from parents statewide — some from Hamilton, Fairfield, West Chester Twp. and Liberty Twp. — who say their children will not take state tests. Their reasons range from anger at overtesting, the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, arguments that the tests are not developmentally appropriate based on students’ grade level, and more.

    Amie Hartman of Liberty Twp. said she downloaded a “safe harbor” form, or opt-out form, from Operation Opt Out Ohio to submit to Lakota’s VanGorden Elementary School. Hartman said she won’t have her third and fourth graders take the test because, as one example, fourth-graders’ testing schedule shows 15 testing days out of a 44-day period of school.

    “Over one-third of their days have some form of testing in them,” Hartman said. “I think it’s very disheartening for 9-year-olds and also for their teachers, who would much rather be using that as instructional time. On top of that, they have to dedicate time to practice tests, to practicing instruction time to show them how to correctly take the test.”

    Shannon Friend of Monroe echoed Hartman’s concerns. Friend has children in third, fourth and sixth grade in Monroe Local School District and has opted all of them out of next week’s testing.

    “It’s not as much this particular testing, as it’s the one I can take a stand in, just saying how overtested our children are without major repercussions for my kids,” Friend said. “More so than anything, I’ve been hearing for years from friends who are teachers how all they’re doing is teaching to a test, and for them, they deem it as criminal to not arm the kids with that education for the test, but they also are well aware that that’s not where the kids should be going.”

    ODE officials say state testing is critical for measuring student learning and holding schools accountable to parents and taxpayers.

    “It’s important for parents that every year, their child is learning and progressing. That’s the promise we make to parents as public schools,” said ODE spokesman John Charlton. “These tests are one way to check the progress of these students.”

New testing system

    Ohio is switching from the old paper Ohio Achievement Assessments to a new set of tests this year that are longer, more difficult and largely taken on computers. The English and math tests are tied to the Common Core standards. Current high school sophomores and above are still grandfathered into the old Ohio Graduation Test.

    State officials have said new learning standards and tests are important in measuring whether students can apply concepts and solve problems rather than just memorize, an issue they say is crucial in preparing students for a changing workforce. Local business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce have supported that position.

    State school board President Tom Gunlock, of Centerville, said the minimum scores needed to be deemed proficient on past Ohio tests ranged from 32 percent of questions correct to 57 percent, so higher standards may be needed. Proficiency levels for the new tests have not yet been set.

    “I firmly believe that over time, kids are going to rise to the occasion and do just as well on these tests as they did on (the OAAs),” Gunlock said.

    State school board member A.J. Wagner disagreed, arguing that many students are not   prepared for the harder tests, will fail, and then give up.

    “Some kids are very stressed about taking tests, and there are a lot of parents who don’t see any value in tests,” said Wagner, who represents the state Board of Education’s 3rd district, which includes Butler County. “If they believe that it’s best for their child, then that’s fine, don’t take the test. At the same time, we have this federal mandate to require tests. …    I’m in a position of trust on the school board. I don’t want to say do it (opt-out), but I can understand anyone who says they will.”

    Wagner said the amount of time now devoted to preparation and testing is one of the biggest complaints. In addition to taking away from teaching time, he said it leaves school computers unavailable for weeks, takes away counselors’ time during college application season and requires extra staffing to prepare for and oversee testing.

    The Ohio Department of Education identified consequences for skipping tests – most third-graders would have to repeat the grade if they didn’t earn a passing score on the reading test. Ninth-graders could limit their graduation options if they skipped new end-of-course exams. School districts could score worse on the state report card if numerous students skipped state tests, or they could face federal spending restrictions if test participation goes below 95 percent.

    Senate Education Committee Chair Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, suggested another problem with opting out.

    “This is a transition year to a new test,” Lehner said. “We are trying to find out how our students will do, and what are the problems with test questions, test administration, test technology. By opting out, all they’re doing is skewing the results, and not giving us a clear-cut picture of how well the test measures the things we’re trying to test.”

    Meanwhile, there is significant anti-test momentum. Ohio’s state legislature has introduced bills to limit testing. State school Superintendent Richard Ross recommended cuts to local and state testing hours that were picked up in Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal. And the superintendents of Springboro, Little Miami and Mason schools all wrote letters about testing problems this month.

    “I liken the current approach to using an MRI and CAT scan to diagnose a medical issue when a thermometer would do the trick,” Mason Superintendent Gail Kist-Kline wrote.

    Schools would like to see everyone take the test, Orr said, not just because the district will be held accountable, but because the tests provide crucial data to educators.

    “It provides practice,” he said, for future tests like the ACTs. “And it allows us to have baseline data to help students improve.”

    Butler County school districts told the Journal-News they provide parents who inquire about opting out an Ohio Department Education link regarding state assessments and student participation. District officials said they received that information from ODE last week and were advised to use it to respond to questions.

    Sam Ison, superintendent of Middletown City School District, said students who opt out in his district will be given other work or activities while they are not testing.

    But before a parent allows their child to get to that point, the district attempts to intercede.

    “A school principal talks to them and basically lets them know what the implications are,” Ison said. “We basically talk about what the student has to do during that period of time and how that will impact the school.”

    Ison said more parents are likely to join the “opt out” movement if testing levels are increased.

    “Even with current testing, the more awareness there is, obviously there probably will be more,” he said. “I anticipate that.”

    Lani Wildow, director of curriculum and instruction for Fairfield City School District, said the tests are supposed to be indicators of the students’ readiness for the next grade or next phase of life.

    “Without the information we are concerned that we will not have enough data to make quality instructional decisions for these students for the next school year,” she said.

Fairfield City School District will handle testing itself no differently than with previous testing refusals, Wildow said.

    “The student will be presented with the test,” Wildow said. “If the student does not take the test, he or she will receive a zero.”

    Michelle Saylor of Fairfield said she is fine with that option because the testing “does not affect my child’s grade in any way, shape or form.”

    “It is only reflective of the district and the schools,” she said. “They get a certain amount of money from the state for each kid who actually takes these test, so it’s beneficial for them for them to push each and every kid to take the examination. They need 95 percent attendance rate to get a certain grading. They get points for each and every child that takes the test.”

    Despite the district’s assertion that she’s not allowed to opt out of the testing for her child,    Saylor said she knows there is no legal obligation for her child to be tested next week.

    “It’s not law that every kid sit and take the test,” she said. “The law is that the actual schools administer the test.”

    If there really was a law about it, districts like Lakota, Mason, Lebanon and others wouldn’t be allowing parents to opt out, Saylor said.

    Fairfield will follow the guidance of its legal counsel with regard to the testing, and will not honor the opt out forms “because these are not forms created by or distributed by the ODE,” according to spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher.

     Saylor said she instead submitted two letters of refusal to the district, one for each of her third-grade twins.


Feb. 16 to March 20: Performance-based tests that include short-answer questions, short essays and the need to show work on math problems.

April 13 to May 15: End of course tests focusing more on traditional multiple-choice questions.

Each test could include multiple 60-90-minute sections.


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VietVet View Drop Down
MUSA Council
MUSA Council

Joined: May 15 2008
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 13 2015 at 5:46pm
"The Ohio Department of Education advised schools last week that they are required to test all students in specified grades and subjects, and that there may be consequences “for the child, the child’s teacher, and the school and district” if students refuse"

So, what are these parents going to do if it gets to this point? Won't do any good to fight it in court and almost a guaranteed, costly loss for the parent.

"Despite the district’s assertion that she’s not allowed to opt out of the testing for her child,    Saylor said she knows there is no legal obligation for her child to be tested next week.
    “It’s not law that every kid sit and take the test,” she said. “The law is that the actual schools administer the test.”"

No, it's not law, but your kid won't move on to the next level either.

But what happens when their kid gets a zero for not testing and they don't move on to the next grade level or graduate from high school. Can't move on to college without the high school level being completed. How will the parent feel then?

Don't understand the parents who don't seem to understand how the system works. Whether you agree with the testing or not, it is required. Doesn't look like they have a choice unless they want to hold their kid back until they do decide to play the game.

If there was a confidence level of achievement by the legislators, there would be no need for government involvement and over-testing to assure the schools are effectively doing their jobs. Somewhere down the line, there was a trigger that the schools were not educating effectively resulting in required evidence in the form of proficiency testing.
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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