Parents Mobilize To Change Third Grade Reading Tests

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UPDATED: Friday May 2, 2014 10:10 PM

It's test time for Ohio's third graders. 

The reading scores they post on the spring assessment will tell them if they get to move on to 4th grade reading or if they have more work to do.  And that could mean more testing or being held back.

It's become such a stress point, some parents say they've had enough and are mobilizing to change things.

Luke Butler loves to read, but his fall test score didn't show it.  He missed the 392 cut off by a couple of points.  For Luke, the take away was to improve or repeat.

"It made me feel I was gonna get held back and stay in 3rd grade another year," sighs Luke.

Luke's mom Allison says her son called her tearfully with the news and decided she wasn't going to send him to school with a bunch of anxiety. 

And it's a big reason why Allison put Luke in a charter school.

Religion-based charter school students don't have to pass the reading assessment to move on. They are exempt.  So it's no longer a stress point for the Butlers, but it has become a rally point.

Allison wrote an editorial that was shared thousands of times and started a Facebook page called Parents Against The Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

It's become a forum for mobilization.  Allison urges moms and dads to write people in power if they don't think the guarantee is good for kids.

She's not the only one.  Mom, Tara Kilian is working for change, too.

"I'm not against testing as one form of assessment, I'm against it being the only form that matters," Tara says.

She also has a facebook page where parents share frustrations -- like the fact a child's painted Easter egg had OAA - for Ohio Achievement Assessment - on it.  "It just shows it's really on kids' minds."

She too hopes the power of the pen persuades lawmakers to re-think the guarantee.

"I'e written to every member of the Senate Education Committee, as well as local reps.  So, I've done a lot of writing," Kilian recalls.

She's gotten responses, but no promise of action.  Despite that, Kilian says she will keep pushing on.

In Columbus City Schools alone, roughly 57 percent of the 4100 third graders didn't hit the reading bar.  That means at a lot of children could potentially remain in 3rd grade reading based on a test.

But an Ohio Department of Education spokesman says third graders have six test chances to prove they are up to speed before a school holds them back.

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