Ohio House Passes Bill to Protect Students Opting Out of Common Core Tests

Published March 13, 2015

The Ohio House of Representatives has passed legislation to protect students from punishment when opting out of testing aligned with Common Core standards.

House Bill 7 passed unanimously in February. If the bill becomes law, it would protect Ohio students from penalties for opting out of high-stakes testing. HB 7 states the results of the testing, or the fact students are opting out, cannot alter their ability to proceed to the next grade or obtain course credit. This applies to any testing aligned with Common Core standards.

The bill also states districts cannot release student data to an outside source or third party without permission from a parent or guardian.

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests align with Common Core and debuted in Ohio in early 2015. House Bill 487, which became law in 2014, protects teachers from having their job stability compromised based on PARCC testing during the first year of testing.

‘Safe Harbor’

Heidi Huber, founder of Ohioans Against Common Core, praises state Rep. Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) for sponsoring HB 7. 

“Rep. Buchy has been instrumental in getting the main thing across, and that is the safe harbor of not having tests affect [students],” said Huber.

Buchy says HB 7 is a logical way to deal with Common Core-aligned tests.

“Providing safe harbor to Ohio’s students from the PARCC testing results is a practical commonsense approach to governing,” Buchy said. “We need to continue to examine the problems arising with the implementation of PARCC moving forward to determine the best way to educate and monitor the growth of children in Ohio.”

‘Security Blanket for Parents’

A concern critics raised about the bill is it does not include a third grade language arts assessment. Currently, students are required to earn a passing score on Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee testing in order to advance to the fourth grade.

Another concern is HB 7 would apply only to the 2014–15 academic year.

Huber says HB 7 is a step in the right direction because it shows parents they have control over whether to opt out of Common Core. “[Opting out provides a] security blanket for parents, because they are so accustomed to complying,” said Huber.

“The positive side to the Common Core backlash and Opt Out movement is watching parents reclaim their authority over their children’s education,” Huber said. “They are empowered and armed with the facts, thus able to resist the pressure to conform. Moms on a mission are an unmatchable force.” 

Dawn Randall, an Ohio teacher and member of the Ohio BATS, a group of teachers who oppose Common Core, released a video on February 26 saying the PARCC tests are a waste of valuable time that could be spent on learning. In the video Randall estimates each student loses about 300 hours of instructional learning to standardized testing. She says children who were able to opt out of PARCC testing are “free to learn” now.

Protecting Teachers and Students

Julie Aspiras, an Ohio teacher for 25 years, says she supports HB 7.

“In my opinion, HB 7 is a move in the right direction,” Aspiras said. “It allows for parents to opt out of high-stakes testing without penalizing the student or the school district. I am concerned though, that there is no mention of a safe harbor for teachers.” She says further teacher protections should have been included in HB 7.

“[These tests are] used for their evaluations,” Aspiras said. “As a teacher who works in a large school district, I understand that there are a lot of variables that affect a student’s performance at school. We deal with students from poverty and the struggles they face on a daily basis. Their growth can’t always be measured on a computer assessment, and to hold a teacher accountable for their score is unfair.”

HB 7 passed in both the Ohio House and Senate as of March 4, but has not yet been signed into law as of presstime.

Diana-Ashley Krach ([email protected]) writes from Lake Worth, Florida.

Image by COCOEN daily photos.

Learn More:

Dawn Randall, “Mrs. Randall Goes Public: PARCC the Tests,” YouTube.com, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=p29EWYSnoGA

Ohioans Against Common Core: http://ohioansagainstcommoncore.com