Part-Time Participation – Problems and Pitfalls by Sue Duncan
This memorandum contains information on:
(1) testing with school districts;
(2) Ohio Proficiency Tests;
(3) assessment options and filing procedures;
(4) participation in school-offered testing – a perspective on the pitfalls of participating in government programs on the independence of homeschoolers.
In the spring of each year, many school districts conduct standardized (and proficiency) testing. Homeschoolers receive letters from their school districts advising them of testing dates, locations, and times AND they are being invited and encouraged to take advantage of free testing services.
Homeschoolers should note that letters from many districts do not make it clear that participation in testing is voluntary – not mandatory. Be aware: testing is but one option available to home educators for assessment. (And, if homeschoolers choose testing, they may do so privately.)
Note as well: assessments should NOT be provided to a school district separately from subsequent year’s notification of intention to home educate. The district is NOT entitled to request or demand that you provide your academic assessment separately or by a certain date or that you provide your notification by a certain date. Following long-standing, statewide practice and the Ohio home education regulations, the assessment and the notification are filed together AND are sent to the superintendent ONLY, not a designee.
“The parent(s) shall send to the superintendent an academic assessment report of the child for the previous school year at the time of supplying subsequent notification.” [OAC 3301-34-04(A) ]
ASSESSMENT CHOICES [per Ohio Home Educ. Regs: 3301-34-04(B)(1)(2)(3) ] include:
(1) Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test which meets the requirements set forth in rule 3301-12-02 of the Admin. Code;
(The assessment standard is: reasonable proficiency – overall composite score of at least the 25th percentile)
(2) A written narrative [portfolio review] indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child’s work has been reviewed and that the child’s academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child’s abilities. (Assessment standard: progress in accordance with the child’s abilities.)
(3) An alternative academic assessment of the child’s proficiency mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent.
Please be aware that PROFICIENCY TESTING does NOT fulfill the home education requirements for testing option-OAC 3301-34-04 (B)(1):
“Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test …”
THE CINCINNATI PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT has sent a letter in which they state: “*Note: The Ninth Grade Proficiency Test is a high school graduation requirement…”
Be advised that homeschoolers are under no obligation to take the Ohio Proficiency Test; it is NOT a requirement for homeschoolers. AND, it is NOT a requirement of graduation for a home educated child, UNLESS such child is returning to the public system.
For the sake of discussion, you might also wish to think about the following if you are considering either the Ohio Proficiency Test or using testing services offered by your school district: Beside the fact that the Ohio Proficiency Test is seriously flawed and would not meet the criteria of a nationally-normed, standardized achievement test, it is suggested that home educators carefully consider the possible negative ramifications on the long-term independence of the homeschooling community of participating in such testing – whether OPT or district-provided achievement testing. Consider: if some homeschoolers participate and others do not; might it be asked: why don’t ALL homeschoolers test with us – some do. What do the others have to hide? This is one facet of the “accountability” issue that policymakers are currently raising with respect to home education.
Also, consider that your child’s results and ALL scores are available for perusal by the school district. If you choose this option – and test privately – you would make available only the overall composite score, not the individual scores on each section. Further, if you test privately and are not satisfied with the results – if they do not meet the assessment standard of 25th percentile or above – you could either re-test or decide upon a different assessment option.
Using public-school services and programs makes homeschoolers dependent upon the public system; might it be possible to use this dependency to then further restrict their homeschooling freedoms by demanding an accounting. [Then further restrict home education freedoms by demanding this same accounting for those NOT involved in the offered services - after all, some are doing it; why not require all to do so?] When these school $$$ (in the form of any service) end up in the “pockets” of homeschoolers, it provides a strong reason for government interest, responsibility, oversight and control.
Rodger Williams stated in an article about government-subsidized homeschooling programs: _Will Homeschoolers Dodge This Bullet?_
“The reason we home educate is because we can do a better job than outsiders can. We carry out the educational process with our personal insight into our children’s strengths and weaknesses fully operational. We are not arbitrarily constrained by the control of government officials. This independence from government interference is what makes home education so successful and worth the sacrifice. Yet, this freedom to do what is best for our children is precisely what is endangered by accepting government funds [be it testing, or part-time participation] for home schooling, because it invites government intervention.”
Yes, we pay taxes. You might ask: shouldn’t I get something back for all these dollars? Consider this: you pay for fire and police protection as well. You are perhaps grateful if you’ve never had to use these services. You might also consider that your tax dollars support children who will be members of a future society in which you and your children shall live.
Food for thought.
Some articles on the pitfalls of participating in government-subsidized programs by homeschoolers:
“The Third Great Lie” by Chris Cardiff: http://people.netscape.com/ccardiff/greatlie.html
“The Seduction of Homeschooling Families” by Chris Cardiff: http://people.netscape.com/ccardiff/seduction.html
Foundations of Freedom – Social policy, Research and Legislation
(articles on preserving homeschooling freedoms)
Prepared and Submitted by:
Susan M. Duncan, April 2000 (Please do not reprint for distribution or publication without prior permission)