Testing Errors May Stall the Educations of Hundreds of Ohio Students

A possible “glitch” has been found with Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee, causing an influx of students to be at risk of being held back this year. It is suspected that, as district officials set the scores students need to receive on reading tests in order to advance to the next grade level, they misaligned the target by a long shot.

At least two of the four alternate tests -the popular NWEA MAP and Terra Nova exams- set targets too high this year. So far, Akron, Canton, and Columbus school districts are all facing similar issues. It is still unclear how this has affected the state as a whole.

A board meeting in early July lasted nearly 12 hours as a panicked room sought out a resolution for the issue. The controversy lies in the fact that it is the secondary tests, tests that offer an extra way to meet standards and advance, are drawing the controversy, not the primary state tests themselves.

Many of these at-risk students have been attending summer school to improve their reading skills and retake the tests, but to complicate the situation even further, those results won’t be available until late August.

"We have school starting in five weeks and we have children that could be retained when they shouldn't be," said board member Stephanie Dodd of Hebron. "That's not right.”

To many board members, this whole issue came as a surprise, including Martha Manchester who exclaimed: "This is a really big deal. I've known nothing about this, and all of a sudden I hear that there's all these children that could be affected and it tears at my heart."

Members of the board were conflicted on how quickly they had to act under the circumstances and feel as though they didn’t have enough information to solve the problem directly. The 12-hour board meeting resulted in much testimony and debate, only to conclude that scores will not be adjusted and they will do further research into September.

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