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Ohio Parents Concerned About Common Core Don't Actually Have Much of a Choice

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“Everybody got safe harbor, except for our kids.”

People protesting the Common Core education standards demonstrate near the hotel where the meeting of Tennessee's Education Summit is taking place on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. Thursday's event titled "Progress of the Past, Present and Future" will involve elected officials and representatives from 24 organizations focusing on K-12 and higher education. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Ohio parents technically have the option of pulling their kids out of the state’s Common Core testing — but making that choice could mean failing their classes or not getting a diploma at all.

Ohio Department of Education spokesman John Charlton told the Cincinnati Enquirer that while state law doesn't require students to take the exams, there are consequences for not doing so: Students that don’t take state graduation tests cannot get a high school diploma, while third-graders that don’t take the reading exam could be retained.

As a result, the number of parents opting their children out the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers has been negligible, the newspaper reported.

People protesting the Common Core education standards demonstrate near the hotel where the meeting of Tennessee's Education Summit is taking place on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. Thursday's event titled "Progress of the Past, Present and Future" will involve elected officials and representatives from 24 organizations focusing on K-12 and higher education. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) AP

“We believe the PARCC tests are bad for our kids,” Stacy Hamsher, head of an anti-Common Core group in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, told the Enquirer. “Especially in math, we're talking about concepts that children are not fundamentally able to comprehend.”

Hamsher said the state legislature gave protection to both school districts and teachers to not be judged on the results of the tests, but said students don’t have any real option.

“Everybody got safe harbor, except for our kids,” she said.

The Common Core K-12 math and English standards were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Though not a federal program, the U.S. Department of Education has tied its “Race to the Top” school grants to states that have adopted the standards. This year, three states – Indiana, South Carolina and Oklahoma – have dropped the standards altogether, while others are either reviewing them or making changes.

Charlton said the Ohio Department of Education encourages school districts to explain the consequences of not taking the tests to parents and said parents who opt out should do so in writing. The state will not know how many parents opted out until the summer.

Another consequence is that students that don’t take the tests get a zero when it comes to the school district's report cards, said Damon Asbury, director of legislative services with the Ohio School Boards Association.

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