If you’re a parent with a child in third grade this year, then you are probably aware of Ohio’s new Third Grade Reading Guarantee law that puts added pressure on your son or daughter to score (nearly) proficient or greater on the state’s reading achievement test or else they will end up in summer school and most likely be retained.  A week ago, we wrote about how the total number of students expected to be retained this year is in the neighborhood of 19,000 statewide.

welcome to 3rd grade

The new law was written in such a way that it puts the onus on the school to take the action of retaining the student, eliminating any parental choice about the testing situation, including preventing parents from opting-out of the test.  If a parent were to keep their child home on testing day (and make-up testing day) in a statement of protest over standardized testing, then the child would receive a score of zero and would be required to participate in reading intervention and either be retained in third grade or forced to take the test during the newly-added summer administration.  The law ranks state governmental control over local and parental control concerning the education of children.

For most, that is.

The new law was written in such a way as to exempt certain students from the possibilities.  No, we’re not talking about those children on IEPs, already receiving intervention, or English-language learners that are specifically exempted in language included in the law.  There are thousands of other third grade students enrolled in schools for whom the law doesn’t even come into consideration.

In Ohio, the schools are labeled as chartered nonpublic schools.  You probably refer to them as private schools (e.g., parochial, many Christian schools, other private schools — not to be confused with “community/charter schools”).  The Third Grade Reading Guarantee law doesn’t apply to them.  One of the main reasons is that these schools aren’t required to administer the Ohio Achievement Assessments in grades 3-8 as the public schools are.  Ohio’s nonpublics are “permitted” to give the tests, but it is through, ironically, an “opt-in” process and the results of the tests are not published and have no ramifications as they do for the public school report cards.

Now, there are thousands of “public school” children attending many of Ohio’s private schools using Ohio’s public school funding dollars.  These children are using one of Ohio’s voucher programs – EdChoice being the largest.  The EdChoice voucher program is the one that Kasich and the Republican-dominated General Assembly have expanded exponentially as part of their ongoing effort to further privatize education across Ohio.  As the program was expanded to be open to more families than ever this year, students using the EdChoice voucher can attend one of hundreds of private schools with taxpayers picking up all or most of the tuition.

Any student using an EdChoice voucher, however, is required to take the state’s standardized tests, including third graders, but their results are meaningless — not a single child will be retained based on their outcome on the grade 3 reading OAA (if a school has over 65% of their student population, the school must administer tests to all students).

Why?  That’s the way Ohio’s pro-privatization Republican legislators wrote the laws.  It doesn’t matter who is paying the tuition — parents or taxpayers — Ohio’s private school students are entirely devoid of any impact by the law, and Ohio’s private schools are completely unaccountable for the results of the tests.

For Ohio’s EdChoice voucher recipients, there are three requirements for keeping and renewing the scholarship from one year to the next:

  1. They take all required state achievement tests for their grade level if they are in grades 3-8 and they take all parts of the Ohio Graduation Tests if they are in grade 10;
  2. They do not have more than 20 unexcused absences for the school year; and
  3. They do not move out of the school district in which they became eligible.

I want to reiterate — every 3rd grader using an EdChoice scholarship is required to take the reading OAA.  They take the test and results are even reported to the Ohio Department of Education.  But, since the EdChoice voucher program is a darling of the Republicans, they couldn’t allow it to have any negative aspects, including requiring the private schools to retain students using taxpayer dollars (as they are in the public schools), so they intentionally avoided linking the Third Grade Guarantee to these students.

In case you were still confused about this, the Ohio Department of Education states it clearly on their EdChoice website FAQs, updated to make it clear that no minimum score on the 3rd grade reading test is required:

My child received low scores on his Ohio Achievement Assessments this year. Can he still renew his scholarship?
Yes. There is no particular score that EdChoice students are required to get on the achievement assessments; they are just required to take them each year.

While we’re in danger of having 19,000 public school third graders retained based on their one-day test result, Ohio’s Republicans have shielded over 14,000 private school third grades from any high-stakes situation whatsoever.

That’s right — Ohio’s hartered nonpublic (private) schools had approximately 14,000 third graders enrolled in the 2012-13 school year, including EdChoice voucher recipients, yet not a single child in those schools is threatened with being retained for producing a subpar result on their reading test.

But wait, there’s more!  Ohio also has 339 more schools across the state that we haven’t even discussed!  There is a third category of school that falls outside of the public and nonpublic categories called Non-Chartered, Non-Tax Supported Schools.  These 339 schools are not chartered by the state board of education (“because of truly held religious beliefs“) and are also not subject to many state laws, including the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

Apparently the laws being written by Kasich & Company continue to set different standards for different segments of the population.  If you follow their ideology of seeking to undermine Ohio’s public school system, whether by attending a private school outright or participating in their pet project — EdChoice vouchers — then you get to be exempt from their punitive law.


One final note: if you’re thinking the Third Grade Reading Guarantee is a moot point for the EdChoice recipients because the private schools have these children scoring so much higher than their public school competition, well, stay tuned…



  • jr6020

    All this needs to be made clear to the public and the legislators and Governor forced to explain why this exemption was written into the law. We should start with all the statewide public school PTA’s and hopefully word of this travesty will spread like a wildfire…

  • becca

    I’d be heading to a private school to avoid this test. My child would be able to pass the test, but I’d be doing it to make a point.

  • Gene

    It ought to be clear by now that John Kasich and the influence the so -called conservatives have on our government is not for its good. If these people with their Conservative political agenda could get away with it they would eliminate all of our Public schools and turn them into charter and religious schools. They are able even more so now that , thanks to G.W. Bush, religious schools can now use our public money for education of religious and charter schools with the public schools being forced to provide facilities to these schools they do not possess.
    Isn’t it funny that all the Conservatives on Fox whine and cry that they don’t like to pay taxes for other people’s lifestyle meaning people on welfare, homeless, unemployment, retired, Medicare, Social Security,
    lazy, unemployed, stupid, too dumb to know or care about the Constitution and Bill of Rights etc., etc., etc. but they don’t mind letting the taxes they hate to pay for the common ordinary man’s life style, but they allow the use of public money to be used to send their own personal children to the religious and charter and private schools and are proud of it. It’s all right for the common man to work and support these superior people who call themselves Conservatives.
    If John Kasich and his fellow Republicans are Republicans, , why do they call themselves “Conservatives.”
    Because they are not Republicans. They use the Republican party to get away with trying to get into our government and push their Fascist agenda.
    Sean Hannity has said “I am not a Republican. I am a conservative. We are waiting for a conservative to come along and run on the conservative ticket.” So why do Republicans listen to a Conservative who admits he is not a Republican. and does not vote Republican, but conservative. Because these people are traitors to our country promoting an agenda using the Republican Party to get it across for them using all of American ideals such as love of country, family, Military, patriotism and others.
    Mark Levine has said we need a “new Republican Party with new leadership.” Yes!~ they want to subvert the Republican part, or destroy it, eliminate it or absorb it. Now they want to blame John Boehner and others for wising up to the Conservatives and telling the conservatives we did it your way and all we did was get no-where. Just like these Conservative Bastards on Fox Broadcasting are now kissing -up to the very same people they have deliberately hated and scorned for the last 15 years: you know -the ones of us they called stupid, dumb, too dumb to know ,care about or understand the Constitution and Bill of Rights, ignorant, lazy, too lazy to work, homosexuals, gays, queers, lesbians, perverts, unemployed, on welfare, food stamps, too lazy to work or look for jobs: laying around getting pregnant so as to get and live on welfare so as not to have to work for it liberals, communists, Socialists, gun haters, gun grabbers and on and on and on and—–.
    Now these traitorious conservatives on Fox and the Tea Party who promised the netthe last two Presidential elections and or the control of the Senate to run this country as a dictatorship failed have now turned on the Republicans and are blaming them for everything going not their way and threaten to get all the Congressmen who do not follow the Conservative agenda out of office.
    Listen some more to the multi-millionaire, draft-dodging, college drop-outs- Sean Hannity , Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh who sell their country out for money and the rest of the Fox hosts.

  • Gene

    What John Kasich and the Republicans have done for the private, religious and charter schools show how when we look back years later , we wonder what is wrong with our schools doing so badly. . and we forget their sneaky reasons and methods to accomplish it.
    If our public schools are doing so badly, how long are we going to blame it on the teachers ? Or blame policeman, firemen, social workers , public workers for our public problems or despise them for earning a decent wage or living.? Some of us ordinary people or Common people have to have a decent living, wage and opportunities for the incentive for our young and each other to strive for , to look forward to. To build our culture and history, improve our way of life.
    Those haters of the Common man on Fox Broadcasting have done an excellent job of creating hatred for our public workers and officals before the last election when listening to the talk shows in Columbus, callers were angry that the firemen, policemen, teachers, public workers, were earning too much and had too many benefits. They have even turned the young people against Social Security and Medicare, welfare, unemployment and their fellow man.
    Vote Conservative. Maybe we’ll see the kind of government they secretly are promoting and then we can really see what their real agenda was. Please. I’m tired of waiting for these Conservatives on Fox to reveal their real agenda they call Conservatism. Maybe we can all be in a concentration camp together somewhere. Maybe the Conservatives can take the resentment and envy away that they
    have created in us against our Public employees by making us all equal in rank and pay and living conditions by making us all serfs.
    Don’t they always talk about the past- the days of the Constitution?
    Bill of Rights? And even further back in time than that.
    Vote conservative. Let these frustrated Bastards on Fox get it out of their system. These Conservatives used the Republican party as their dupes and now that their agenda has failed , they blame the very men in the Republican Party they convienced to do their dirty agenda .

  • wetsu

    I wonder if part of the equation involves the children of politicians attending private schools? They certainly don’t want their kids to cope with these trivial details and/or do not want to deal with their little darling failing the test.

  • Gene

    The Republican Party better rid themselves of these people on Fox Broadcasting that they have been under the influence of and start getting a decent, loyal , patriotic American in sight to run on the Republican Presidential ticket or they will if they keep kissing -up to the conservative influence which dominates the party , they will ( the Conservatives) take over, eliminale, destroy, absorb, or make the Republicans a minority party.
    The Republicans have never seemed in the past to be so defiant, arrogant and hard to get along with. but they are with the Conservative influence.
    The Conservatives are now blaming the Republicans and Boehner for the troubles of failing–yes failing not to do the best for /America and its citizens but those Bastards that call themselves Republicans on Fox Broadcasting owned by a foreigner.

  • Very interesting to see what type of things are happening on the educational landscape in other states.

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