This month students across Ohio will begin taking new state assessments. Throughout this school year we have been preparing for these assessments and have been working to communicate these assessments to families. There are many resources regarding these assessments that you may access. Please see them here, here, here and here.
As our assessment date grows near there is a growing question from parents in Worthington on whether they should “opt-out” their child from state testing. There are several websites which advocate for families to “opt-out.” Lately we have been getting questions from families about our stance on the “opt-out” from state tests.
Ohio does not have an official “opt-out” form for parents to fill out when removing children from tests, but parents do have that right, simply by informing the district. There are ramifications of not taking tests, and districts are required to give you a letter informing you of those ramifications. There are consequences for the child and the school. For students, most of the state tests have “no teeth” beyond showing progress and sharing the school’s results with parents. But Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee requires third graders to earn a minimum score on reading tests before advancing to fourth grade. Not taking the reading tests may mean your child cannot be promoted out of third grade. And Ohio’s new high school graduation requirements call for students to take several end-of-course exams to receive a diploma. If a student does not pass enough of those tests they cannot graduate. Understanding those ramifications is important. For the school, each student who does not test counts as a zero. It’s the least of our concerns, but students not testing does reflect poorly on the school district when state report cards are released in the fall.
In Worthington, the question we ask is “why would you opt out?” While the state will be using this year’s data to determine passage levels, the school and district will use the results of the assessment to evaluate the implementation of our curriculum and look for strengths and places to improve. Parents will also receive (albeit a bit later than usual) much more detailed information about their children’s academic achievement and be able to better determine where they can be most helpful. As educators we all agree that ultimately we would like to reduce the number of state testing events we are required to give, but we also feel that these new assessments are better designed to assess what we are actually teaching and what we expect our kids to learn. Full participation in this first go around will allow us to have a much better picture of the new assessments and, thus, better able to make recommendations for change.
In Worthington, we believe our teachers and students are better prepared than most – or any – district in Ohio. While we are all a bit anxious because this is new and different we are very confident that everyone is prepared and our schools will ensure that our students have a positive experience throughout the testing window.
Choosing to “opt-out” of testing is a personal family decision. Make certain you have researched all sides of the issue before making the best decision for your child.
-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent