What you need to know about the many changes in Ohio education rules

By Darrel Rowland - The Columbus Dispatch

Online classes. Canceled basketball games. Carryout lunches. The novel coronavirus has upended life in Ohio and that includes its K-12 schools.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine closed school buildings through at least April 6 – and that date likely will be extended. That has thrown state-mandated testing, graduation, free lunches and, most important, education into disarray.

Throughout the state, teachers and superintendents have risen to the occasion. They have set up online classes and ways to feed children who rely on school-provided meals.

On Wednesday, state lawmakers approved multiple changes to how schools will operate during this crisis. Here’s what that means for you.

Will my child need to take state tests this year?

No. State testing was waived for the 2019-2020 school year.

My child is in third grade. Will she be held back for not passing the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee.

No. Schools cannot hold a student back based solely on their reading performance during the 2019-2020 school year unless the principal of the building and the student’s reading teacher agree that the student is reading below grade level and is not prepared to be promoted to the fourth grade.

My child is a senior. Who determines if he will graduate?

Your child’s principal, in consultation with teachers and counselors, will review his or her progress toward meeting the requirements for a high school diploma at the time DeWine’s administration closed school buildings.

If your child has an individualized education program, the principal will assess how he or she was meeting those requirements.

If your child was on track to graduate, he or she will graduate.

Is my child eligible for a private school voucher – sometimes called EdChoice?

If your child was eligible for a private school voucher during the 2019-2020 school year, he or she will be eligible again.

State lawmakers froze the list of “underperforming” school buildings – so the list won’t expand dramatically for the 2020-2021 school year.

Siblings of students who currently receive private school vouchers, kindergarten students and those entering high school can apply for the performance-based vouchers if their local public school building was deemed “underperforming” for the 2019-2020 school year.

My child has developmental disabilities or other needs. How can their teachers help during this time?

Licensed special education teachers are permitted to use telehealth and electronic communication to reach out to students.

My child is in a career-technical program that relies heavily on in-person teaching. How will that work?

As soon as Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton allows students to return to school buildings, students who need in-person instruction should have access to it, even if the last instructional day of the school year has passed.

Usually, there’s a limit on how many days students can miss in-person class. What’s the deal there?

Ohio law typically limits distancing learning – online or other non-classroom education – to three days.

But for the 2019-2020 school year, schools can make up any number of days or hours necessary using distance learning.

I’m a teacher. How will I be evaluated during this time?

Teachers won’t be responsible for “value-added,” a measure that evaluates students’ academic growth from year to year.

Will schools and districts receive report cards this year?

The Ohio Department of Education won’t publish report card ratings for the 2019-2020 school year. Schools won’t receive an overall letter grade or a grade for various components.

Charter schools won’t receive ratings either and their sponsors won’t be penalized for not complying with requirements while schools are closed.

The Ohio Department of Education will report any data it does have about school and district performance by Sept. 15.


By Darrel Rowland

The Columbus Dispatch

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