After increasing pressure from parents threatening to opt-out of PARCC testing, the Ohio Department of Education has backed off it's threat to withhold funding for any student who doesn't participate in Ohio's new testing regime.
The state Superitendent, Dick Ross issued this statement to Local School Districts
Recently, many school districts have contacted the Ohio Department of Education asking if they will experience financial consequences for students who do not participate in Ohio's New State Tests.
State law forbids the Ohio Department of Education from funding a student who does not take a state test in the prior school year. However, Ohio law also allows the state superintendent to issue a waiver that permits the department of education to fund that student the following school year. Under that authority, the department has, in the past, automatically funded these students for many years. We plan on continuing the same practice this year. This means that we will continue to fund each student in your district, regardless of their participation.
I would also like to share that the Senate Education Committee approved an amendment to House Bill 7 last Wednesday that would prohibit the department from withholding state funds for students who do not participate in state tests during the 2014-1015 school year. While this is not yet law, it is evidence that the legislature is responding to this challenging issue.
Additionally, the federal No Child Left Behind Act also requires districts and schools to administer state tests to all students in certain grades and subjects. Federal law says that if fewer than 95 percent of students at a school or district take the tests, there could be financial consequences. This also is true if fewer than 95 percent of a subgroup of students, like students in poverty, take the tests. These consequences vary from school to school based on any grants a school receives and how well it performs otherwise. While schools or districts may not lose federal funding, some could see restrictions placed on their federal funds.
I know you understand the importance testing plays in an effective education system. Testing shows evidence of student progress. It provides much needed information to classroom teachers and others so they can monitor and improve student learning. Results of these assessments provide teachers perspective on what their students were able to retain and apply long term, allowing for reflection and correction in future school years. Especially at a time when we must prepare our students for the high-skill demands of today's workforce, we need testing--and test results--to tell us how to best help our students succeed. I hope you will explain this critical relationship between testing and teaching to the parents of your communities and encourage them, as much as you are able, to allow their students to take Ohio's New State Tests.
Richard A. Ross
Superintendent of Public Instruction