Plain Dealer Article

The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently ran an article on the efforts of OAIS member schools to repeal Ohio’s unnecessary testing requirements for private schools. The article can be found here:

Since our lawsuit in 1995, this issue has been an important one for OAIS schools. At the very heart of testing requirements is the challenge to the ability of a private school to shape its curriculum. There are many factors that make independent schools unique but the curriculum is at the center of it. The school’s mission and philosophy is shaped by its curriculum and vice versa. Any attempt to override that autonomy through the use of mandatory high-stakes standardized testing is a direct threat to an independent school’s freedom, especially when that testing dictates to the school to whom it may or may not issue a diploma.
I rarely read the comments sections of articles but I was curious to see the reaction of folks to the article, and with over 160 comments, there were a lot of reactions. I was pleased that most of them were positive. It is worth noting that one commenter said if independent schools receive government money through auxiliary funds and administrative cost reimbursement, they should have to follow “all” government mandates. There are those who believe that to be a valid position. It’s worth remembering a couple of things, though. First, auxiliary funds predate testing requirements by over 20 years, so testing is not the reason our schools receive the money. Second, administrative cost reimbursement is given to private schools because the amount of regulation of private schools by the state far exceeds what most states require of private schools. Third, our schools could either refuse or give all of that money back to the state, and state law would still require them to take the tests.
We should remember that the goal of testing students is to assess their progress and for accountability to stakeholders. Independent schools already use tests chosen by them that are much more effective for assessing students. Independent schools already have accountability to stakeholders because if parents aren’t pleased with the education provided, they may simply withdraw their child from the school. It’s the most simple, basic accountability you can get and there’s nothing more effective. If the state chooses to do that for its public schools, they’re free to do so, but don’t drag free-market schools into it. We can do an excellent job without mandates.