Updates on State Testing for Spring 2021: Ohio School Law

Does my child have to participate in spring testing?

We can all agree that 2020 was a year like we have never experienced before. The educational institutions tried their best to accommodate the changing situation and help support students the best that they could. One of those ways was to forgo the traditional state testing in the spring of 2020. As the new school year began and schools had a better plan in place for how they would educate our children, the state agreed to bring back the mandatory state testing but gave districts a lot of flexibility on when those tests would occur. This spring is no different.

Here are some facts from the Ohio Department of Education regarding the spring testing:

  • Due to technology and test security requirements, there is no option to remotely administer state tests.
  • 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.
  • Testing windows have been extended with many more options for districts to choose from. 
  • No student should be retained for not meeting the promotion score or reading subscore on Ohio’s State Test for grade 3 English language arts unless the child’s principal and reading teacher decide otherwise. Meaning, the Third Grade Reading Guarantee has been changed for the 2020-2021 school year. 
  • Federal and state laws require all districts and schools to test all students in specific grades and courses. There is no law that allows a parent or student to opt out of state testing, and there is no state test opt-out procedure or form. That being said, a parent can withdraw a child from participation in certain state tests, but there may be consequences for the student, the student’s teacher, and the school and district.
    • Districts and schools receive no credit when a student doesn’t participate in state testing. This can negatively impact a district’s state A-F report card grades.
    • Districts and schools cannot count students who do not take all required state tests in their average daily membership (ADM) for state funding.
    • Teachers will not have access to advanced diagnostic information from state tests, such as student growth projections, to help inform instruction.
    • A lack of state test scores can affect a student’s ability to graduate high school.

While I understand why a parent would not want to subject their child to a standardized assessment when the child’s learning has been significantly impacted this year, and mental health is a very serious concern for our kids, the school psychologist in me is telling you to let them take the test. Here is the thing, anxiety over these tests stems from the pressure that children feel to pass the test. That pressure comes from home and school. Take away the pressure and reassure your child that you could care less about their score. And when those scores do come home, put very little stock into what is on that paper. All our children have suffered one way or another this year and their educational progression has likely been impacted.  Be sympathetic to their situation. Listen and reaffirm their feelings. But I urge you not to remove this speedbump because when we are uncomfortable, but push on, we build character and resiliency. Our kids need to be resilient because there will be many moments in their lives when they will want to turn away from what makes them uncomfortable but doing so will stifle their personal growth.

Authored by Danielle Randolph, M.Ed., Ed.S., Special Education Advocate at Albeit Weiker, LLP

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