On a single day in April 2014 during the week after Easter, schools across Ohio will administer the Ohio Achievement Assessment (OAA) in Reading to approximately 120,000 third grade children across the state. For Ohio’s young 8- and 9-year-old children, the stakes have never been higher.
We must hope that those young boys and girls show up to school that day ready to take the 2.5 hour test in the right frame of mind and can appreciate the magnitude of their work during that once-in-a-lifetime event. For these young children, it is imperative that they perform to the top of their ability during those few hours that they will spend on Ohio’s high-stakes test or they run the risk of altering the future course of their lives forever.
On that single day in April, each young boy and girl must get at least 28 points out of a possible 49 in order to avoid “flunking” third grade reading.
Why 28 points? Because 28 points converts to a scaled score of 392, the arbitrary number selected by the Ohio State Board of Education, a body of individuals composed primarily of non-educators, many of whom have been appointed by Governor John Kasich and strangely have a variety of ethical conflicts regarding the success of the public schools in Ohio.
31 points would earn a student the designation of Proficient for that 2.5 hour, one day performance in April, while 36 would earn them a label of Accelerated. Should those kids only earn less than 25 points, we’ll call them Limited, and any boy or girl getting 25-30 points means we will stamp them Basic.
But this year, thanks to Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee and State Board of Education, the magic number is 28 points. Score more than 27 and it is presumed that the child is wholly prepared to advance forward without required intervention while a score of 27 or less forces the child, the school, and the parents to engage in interventions that may not be appropriately aligned to any particular reading deficiency nor specifically aligned to the exact struggles the child is dealing with.
It is this type of one-size-fits-all educational approach that has widespread opposition from a diverse group of education advocates on the left and the far right:
- “When it comes to learning, one size does not fit all.” – School Choice Ohio
- “In this environment, and especially in this age of sophisticated data, we shouldn’t put too much stock in an instrument as crude as a “one size fits all” standardized test.” – NEA President Dennis Van Roekel
- “I think one of the problems that we have had in public education is thinking that one size fits all, and we just know that doesn’t work for all children.” – Ohio Superintendent Richard Ross
- “We know that cramming all children into a one-size-fits-all educational box doesn’t work.” – Dan Quisenberry, President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, the state’s charter school association.
- “The Governor’s plan moves Ohio’s schools, families and students away from the idea of education being a one-size-fits-all enterprise to something closer to customized schooling for every child.” – Terry Ryan, Vice-President for Ohio Programs and Policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute
- “Good education policy realizes that all students have different learning styles, preferences, and paces.” – FreedomWorks
- “Students deserve an education that fully develops their intellectual and creative potential, not a series of cookie-cutter tests. Sign the petition to stand with parents, educators and students who reject one-size-fits all education and are working to restore teaching and learning to its proper role at the forefront of the education process.” – American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
- “Freedom to create an educational environment that is NOT one-size-fits-all” – Ohio School Boards Leadership Council Legislative Platform (President Kelly Kohls)
And ironically enough, despite calling the law “his third grade reading guarantee“, Governor Kasich even weighs in about one-size-fits-all approaches in education:
- “Our bureaucratic one-size-fits-all public school system has lost its ability to encourage and nurture the uniqueness of each child.” – John Kasich, (Columbus Urban League Speech, May 17, 1999)
- ” There is no one-size-fits-all answer in education…” – John Kasich, July 1, 2013 [emphasis added]
Despite this general agreement that on-size-fits-all “solutions” in education are wrong, we find ourselves only four and a half months away from a single 2.5 hour test and 28 points that will determine the future of 120,000 of Ohio’s 8- and 9-year-old children — a one-size-fits-all law.
Instead of recognizing that children can still be taught “to read” beyond third grade, instead of adjusting our other arbitrary belief that children are taught “how” to read until third grade and are only taught to “read for content” after that time, schools and parents will be forced to hold these children back in the third grade by Ohio’s one-size-fits-all “answer in education”.
Ready or not, kids, here it comes…