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Guest Column: Granting Safe Harbor to Our Children

March 13, 2015
Paul Zeltwanger News

I am proud to announce that the Ohio House of Representatives has taken a first step towards protecting our children from intrusive state education mandates. House Bill 7 would provide safe harbor for our students, prohibiting scores from the first year of new state assessment tests, including those from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), from being used to determine granting credits and grade promotion.

House Bill 487, which was signed into law during the last General Assembly, provided protection to teachers and school administrators by giving school districts the option of using an alternative student progress measure, instead of the value-added progress measure calculated using results from state assessments, to make decisions such as termination and the granting of tenure. It is important and fair to grant these same protections to students.

House Bill 7 will grant students the same “safe-harbor” that has already been granted to teachers and administrators. By preventing state assessment test scores from the 2014-15 school year from affecting school grades, promotion, or demotion, we will give our students a better chance to succeed. The bill clarifies that these new state assessments are not used to meet requirements under the third grade reading guarantee, and prohibits an individual student’s score reports from the 2014-15 school year from being released, without the permission of a parent, guardian, or the student.

I am pleased with how quickly the House has acted on this issue. Given that testing has already begun in some school districts, it is important that we ensure parents that the new assessments will have no negative effect on students. The Senate unanimously supported House Bill 7 and it now heads to the Governor’s desk.

I will continue to work with parents and local educators to determine the best method of educating our students. Together, we can strengthen our community by working to ensure quality educational opportunities for Ohio’s students. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with questions, concerns, and ideas.