One parent’s dilemma: Why I’m not opting out yet

I want, more than anything, to opt out. I want to tell the State of Ohio, Obama, Arne Duncan, and PARCC to suck it, you may not use my son as a guinea pig. You may not break his spirit and love of learning. But….

I do not want to jeopardize my son’s teacher, principal, school, or district. I do not want to punish the very people who work tirelessly on a daily basis to give him a safe, well-rounded education despite the extra demands placed on them.

Who do I believe? One side urging parents to Opt Out is the Ohioans Against Common Core. They are promoting HB 7, Ohio’s “Safe Harbor for Students.” This Bill allows parents a legal option to opt out of PARCC testing, which, on the surface, sounds amazing. But…

They are telling parents that teachers and districts are protected through Safe Harbor from the negative assessments teachers would incur. They claim the ODE is using scare tactics and lying to parents about the negative impact on teachers if parents opt out. But…

They have their own agenda. “Against Common Core” screams Tea Party, anti-big government, anti-Obama, anti-Common core. Yes, they want to protect our kids from testing, but are promoting their own agenda at the same time. This group wants to “restore local control” but I wonder where they stand on charters and privatization? I wonder if they are manipulating parents for their own gain much like the Federal Government as it pertains to education reform. I specifically asked this group if Safe Harbor protected teachers and never got a response. Remember, many corporate ed reformers want to blame teachers and public education to promote the privatization of education. I can’t support an organization that wants to “take back education” but gives no thought to the negative impact their actions have on the people working in education.

The ODE, on the other hand, has its own agenda too. It has issued a fact sheet listing all of the negative consequences to opting out. Opt out groups say these are scare tactics. Maybe they are, but does that mean the ramifications are untrue? ODE has to follow the law and has their own, state-mandated agenda to promote, involving education funding from the government.

So, to make my own decision for my child, I spoke to my local district. I’ve been in contact with several teachers, including my son’s third grade teacher, our school’s principal, Centerville’s Director of Curriculum, and Superintendent Tom Henderson. The bottom line here is that opting out right now would negatively impact my son’s school, his teacher, and our district. I’m not willing to do that. I believe too much in these people in the cross-fire. And while I still ultimately believe we need to find a way to reduce testing, I don’t think opting out is the way to do it unless teachers are protected from the ramifications.

Then how do I protect my son from the stress of testing? I don’t make a huge deal about it, I tell him not to worry about it, I do the best I can as his parent to shield him from the stress of this stupid testing because I am his parent and that is my job. The less importance I give the test, the less he’ll believe it’s important. I know his teachers are doing the best they can to do the same because I’ve spoken to them. And I continue to try to impact my government (anyone else vote against Kasich?) My goal this weekend is to begin a massive letter writing campaign to our state school board and our state legislators and to pass on the information to anyone else that wants to do the same. I’m going to use my voice, just not to opt out while it harms teachers. But…..

I want to know what you’re deciding and why. Please use your voice. Join in the conversation. Make your own decisions. Do SOMEthing to let legislators know you’re paying attention.

Opting Out of State Tests

At CURE, we are against high-stakes testing attached to Common Core. When starting to unravel all of the information regarding what is happening in public education, it’s important to understand there are many different political sides rallying for common interests but for different reasons. Some groups want the CCSS gone entirely, removing the federal government from the equation. Some want CCSS gone for specific curriculum reasons. Others may be against the standards, but for privatization.  So when we share information from varying groups, like Ohioans Against the Common Core, we want to make sure to state that we don’t necessarily support all of a group’s ideas. Our goal is to help parents make aware enough to make their own decision.

That being said, the Ohio Assessments start next week, including the first round of Third Grade Guarantee testing. At some point, Centerville parents, Ohio parents, local parents, are going to have to take a stand regarding what’s happening on the federal level. Is opting out of the test the most effective way to make a stand?

We at CURE we are very hesitant to do anything that undermines our local school district and teachers. What are the repercussions of opting out ? How will it affect my child, our teachers, and our district? It’s something to start thinking about. What will you decide?

2013-2014 Ohio State Report Cards

See how your district did.

Community Education Meeting Wrap-Up Part 1

Last night, CURE was present and live-tweeting from the Community Education Meeting Co-Sponsored by the Washington-Centerville Library and Centerville City Schools. Approximately 100 members were in the audience. Superintendent of Centerville City Schools (CCS), Dr. Tom Henderson, opened the meeting commending CCS on the results of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

Within CCS, only 10 children failed to pass the Third Grade Guarantee. 9 of those children had exemptions such as English as a second language.

Dr. Tom Lasley of Learn to Earn spoke next and gave some background on why the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are being implemented in Ohio. He emphasized that the future of the United States depends on a skilled and educated population and that in order to have a useful community discussion “we need to set aside politics and offer a sufficient skill set to students. We need to engage thoughtfully and critically.”

Senator Peggy Lehner began by emphasizing how the U.S. is facing an “education crisis threatening the future of our country.” She stated that “American students are falling behind” in the international workforce.

Senator Lehner addressed several members of the audience as people she has seen before who oppose Common Core. Lehner stated that the development of the CCSS has been happening for years and that the state of Ohio alone held 18 hearings regarding its development.

Rather combative she added, “teachers have been learning about CCSS for years and out of the blue there is now an anti-Common Core movement.”

She stressed that state standards are not the same thing as curriculum and that “there is nothing wrong with the Common Core that we can’t fix,” and said that the CCSS implementation time-line in Ohio has been extended because “we expect scores to drop while we all adjust.”

She finished by suggesting that “we are seriously threatening years of work and millions of dollars spent by schools because of the political arguments about the Common Core.”

During the Question and Answer segment after the presentations, a CURE member asked Senator Lehner why the state isn’t footing the bill for the Google Chromebooks required for state mandated testing, but instead is passing that bill onto Ohio schools? In Centerville’s case, PTO’s have then been asked by Principals to fund some of the burden.

Lehner responded by suggesting that because the Chromebooks are useful technology that will be utilized in environments other than for state testing, the state was not necessarily required to provide them.

Following Senator Lehner was Vice-President of the Ohio Department of Education, Tom Gunlock. Gunlock stressed again that state standards are not the same thing as curriculum and that he firmly believes in the Common Core. He was adamant that curriculum belongs to the local school districts, “have concerns about the standards? Call me.”

We encourage you to do so:

Tom Gunlock

10147 Putterview Way

Centerville, Ohio 45458

Phone: (937) 609-6951



Part 2 of our wrap-up will focus on CCS Director of Curriculum, Jeremy Miller, and his presentation regarding the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, it’s components, and assessments.



1 in 8 fails Third Grade Reading Guarantee

This article was copied and pasted from the Dayton Daily News by an online subscriber.


One of every eight Ohio third-graders has yet to pass the state reading test, according to preliminary data released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Education. Under Ohio’s new Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, those 16,068 students are at risk of repeating third grade unless they qualify for a waiver, or pass the state reading test or an approved alternative test this summer.

“These preliminary results show that most Ohio students have mastered the reading skills they need to be successful, but more needs to be done,” said State Superintendent Richard Ross. “We need to continue and in some cases increase our efforts to ensure every boy and girl in Ohio will have the skills necessary to be lifelong learners.”

Local results

Centerville City Schools saw 98.2 percent of its third-graders pass the test — the highest percentage for any large school district in the state. Three small districts north of Dayton — Fort Loramie, Botkins and Russia — had all of their students pass.

3rd-grade reading test results “I think it points to the awesome job our classroom teachers and principals did working together to meet the needs of our students,” Centerville Superintendent Tom Henderson said. “And it’s not just third grade. It’s a testament to the work done at the kindergarten and primary levels, where we have a strong literacy program.”

State data showed Dayton Public Schools with 65.2 percent of its third-graders passing the test, which would be the sixth-worst of the 608 school districts in ODE’s report — ahead of Cleveland, but behind Ohio’s other large urban districts.

Sheila Burton, executive director of accountability for DPS, said the district received data from ODE that shows 71 percent passing. She said the discrepancy is based on the high number of students who move in and out of Dayton Public Schools during each year, and which ones are assigned to DPS for data purposes.

ODE confirmed that the percentages it released Tuesday do not use the same student-tracking principles that are applied to most school accountability reports.

“We were expecting to be higher on our reading guarantee number,” Dayton Superintendent Lori Ward said. “Our mission is to make sure that our third-graders can read. So we invited all of our third-graders who didn’t pass the OAA to summer school.”

Charter schools in Montgomery County totaled a 73.8 percent passage rate on the third-grade reading test, an average that reflected both highs and extreme lows. DECA Prep notched a 93.2 percent passage rate, while 91.1 percent of Pathway School of Discovery students passed. But only 44.4 percent of students at Dayton Leadership Academy’s Dayton View Campus passed the reading test, just behind the 48.7 percent of Horizon Science Academy Dayton.

What happens next?

Three categories of students are exempt from repeating third grade regardless of their reading test scores —“limited English proficient” students who have had less than three years in an English as a Second Language program; special education students on certain Individualized Education Programs; and students who were retained in a previous grade.

Henderson said those waived students account for more than half of the 10 Centerville students who didn’t pass the third-grade reading test. ODE listed 351 Dayton students as having failed the test, but Burton said only 232 will need to be retested in order to move on to fourth grade.

ODE spokesman John Charlton said schools can give third-graders one more crack at the OAA exam in reading during the week of July 7. In addition, students can also take one of the alternative tests — the Iowa Assessment, Terra Nova 3, or the Measurement of Academic Progress — at any time during the summer.

Henderson said Centerville is sending out letters this week to all parents of third-graders, letting them know whether they passed the test. Students who failed or narrowly passed are being invited to a three-week summer intervention program to boost their reading skills.

Ward said 212 of the 232 third-graders that DPS invited to summer school have attended.

“We don’t really take a break in the summer,” she said.

Still, some students will not pass the reading exam this summer. Under Ohio law, those students can still take fourth-grade classes in all other subjects next fall if they are ready, but they are required to get 90 minutes of reading instruction each school day, and work with a “high-performing reading teacher.”

If the student’s reading improves, he can be tested and moved fully into the fourth grade in the middle of the year. Burton said DPS plans to offer more than 90 minutes of reading to those students.

Ward said scheduling students and teachers will be a challenge, because summer test results that determine what grade a student is in aren’t expected until Friday, Aug. 15. DPS’ first day of school is Monday, Aug. 18.


Community Meeting Tonight

Common Core and The Third Grade Guarantee don’t just affect Centerville, but the entire state. Don’t miss this important, informational meeting tonight!

Co-Sponsored by the Washington – Centerville Library and Centerville City Schools

Thursday, June 19, 2014 (7:00 – 8:00 PM)

Cline Elementary Auditorium

99 Virginia Avenue