June 11, 2020
From CHEO’s Legislative Liaison, Melanie Elsey:
HOMESCHOOL ASSESSMENT REPORT WAIVED FOR ALL OPTIONS
The Ohio Legislature has approved a revision to the assessment waiver for home educated students that was originally passed in HB197 at the end of March. This revision states that no school district shall require an academic assessment report required under OAC 3301-34-04 as a condition of allowing the student to continue with home education for this next school year.
This means ALL forms of assessment options have been waived as a requirement to include in renotifications for this next school year. However, it does not prevent any parent from seeking to complete a standardized assessment or portfolio review/written narrative if they choose to do so and can accomplish the assessment in a way that they consider to be safe in the context of the COVID-19 concerns. If assessments are voluntarily completed you can keep the results in your records and do not have to file a report with the school district.
Explanation of Legislative Process
We have had weekly conversations with legislators in both chambers since HB197 passed on March 25th. SB319 was introduced June 2nd and we offered testimony on June 9th. With the legislative process winding down for the summer break, a decision was made to move the amendment to a different bill that was closer to being finalized, thus the amendment was included in HB164. The Senate amended HB164 in the Senate Education Committee on June 10 and it was voted on the Senate floor the same day. HB164 was then sent to the House floor today for a concurring vote. The Ohio House approved the Senate amendments and passed HB164 this afternoon (87-3) with an included emergency clause. The emergency clause means the bill will take effect immediately with the Governor’s signature instead of waiting the normal 90 days.
The approved amendment does NOT affect the home education regulations or put the regulations at any risk of being changed. It also does NOT put any additional language affecting home educators in permanent law. The amendment was written in un-codified language which has the effect of law but is not a part of the Ohio Revised Code. This mechanism in the legislative process is designed to fix temporary or emergency policy issues.
The assessment report for home educators is ONLY waived for the NOI’s for 2020-21 school year re-notifications.
Thank you for your patience in this matter and your continued support!
To see the complete bill: HB164
For a summary of the Homeschool Assessment Waiver: Assessment Waiver
June 3, 2020
From CHEO’s Legislative Liaison, Melanie Elsey:
SENATE BILL 319 – IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED
INTRODUCED JUNE 2, 2020
SB 319 has been introduced by State Senator Matt Huffman and it addresses a number of state policies affected by COVID-19.
For home educating families it corrects an omission error in HB197 which was enacted 2 months ago to waive state assessment requirements for all students in all education venues (public and private).
HB197 (as passed) included language to waive standardized assessments for homeschool assessment reporting but left in place the requirement for portfolio assessments (written narratives). The State Board of Education recognized this omission and unanimously passed a resolution at their May meeting to direct the State Superintendent to seek a legislative change to waive the requirement for the entire assessment report for home educated students.
CHEO has been advocating for a waiver of the entire assessment report for the past two months in both the House and Senate. This is important because there are families with medically fragile special needs children or older adults living in their households with medical conditions that place them at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19 if the state retains a requirement to complete an assessment report that includes a process of meeting with an assessor in person.
While CHEO recognizes that some families will choose to complete this assessment option at no risk to themselves, we have heard from families who are concerned about the risk due to their unique circumstances.
To be clear, CHEO did not ask for the exemption when HB197 was enacted, but we caught the error in the “partial exemption” and recognized the negative impact on families by not waiving the entire assessment report. CHEO has been working since March 27th to correct the error.
The language now proposed in SB319 waives the regulatory requirement to submit an assessment report (which includes all forms of assessments) when submitting a notification of intent to continue to home educate this fall. Families notifying for the first time would not be required to include an assessment report so this pertains to families who are re-notifying for a subsequent year.
FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION:
Please contact your STATE SENATOR and ask for his/her support for SB319.
Please express appreciation for Section 17, paragraph L —Sec.17(L) which fixes the error in previous legislation to waive the state’s assessment requirement for home educated students. Link to SB 319 and the LSC Analysis. Scroll to the portions highlighted in yellow.
Please contact your STATE HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE to give him/her a heads up that SB319 has been introduced and you would appreciate his/her support when it comes over to the House for consideration.
If you are not sure who your legislators are, please either call your county board of elections and ask for the phone number of your state senator and state representative in Columbus OR use this link and fill in your address in the search box. https://www.legislature.ohio.gov
Please share this alert with family and friends. Even if this policy does not affect you please consider calling your legislators to ask for their support.
Thank you so much!
May 14, 2020
From CHEO’s Legislative Liaison, Melanie Elsey:
CHEO has been promising an update on the question of assessment waivers by mid-May. This is what we know at this point in time.
The Ohio Department of Education has posted that standardized assessments and 3rd option assessments (superintendent/parent agreed upon assessments) are waived from required inclusion in next year’s re-notification. The ODE has also postponed the deadline for submitting a portfolio review/written narrative assessment until December so it wouldn’t need to be included with the re-notification at the beginning of the school year.
However, the complete waiver of all assessments is still in process. This week, the State Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution to direct the State Superintendent to secure a legislative fix for the incomplete waiver recently passed in HB197. CHEO has been communicating with key legislators and staff for the past seven weeks to secure the complete waiver and we believe it will be granted.
We greatly appreciate your patience and will let you know as soon as this process is finalized. Also, we are truly thankful for your continued support of CHEO and your prayers!
April 17, 2020
FROM CHEO’S LEGISLATIVE LIAISON, MELANIE ELSEY:
HB 197 was initially approved with uncodified language addressing state policies affected by the COVID-19 concerns. As we described at that time a paragraph was included to waive an assessment requirement for home educating families. The verbiage in this paragraph was specific to standardized achievement tests. I contacted the Ohio Department of Education and spoke with the person responsible for seeking this waiver. I was assured that the intent of the temporary waiver was to affect all homeschool assessments and that the ODE would provide such guidance to school districts.
At this time the ODE has posted “Additional Information on State Testing During the Ordered School Building Closure” as a link from its homepage. The description for “Homeschooled Student Reporting” only specifies the waiver for the nationally normed, standardized assessment and instructs the parents to choose one of the other 2 options for their annual assessment report.
Since this is different from what was assured 2 weeks ago, we are in the process of seeking a solution that would fairly and completely waive all portions of the assessment reporting requirement upon subsequent re-notification. Please be patient with us, with the ODE, and state policy makers as we work through this process. We are confident that we can resolve our concerns in a way that equally protects the safety of home educated students.
We will keep you updated via social media and our website. Thank you for your support. We are always working for you!
March 26, 2020
TO ALL HOMESCHOOL PARENTS:
As the effect of COVID-19 continues to spread in Ohio, our dedicated legislators have been hard at work to support the families and businesses across the state. On March 25, the Ohio Legislature approved HB197 with provisions added to address statutes and regulations affected by the Ohio Department of Health statewide orders and Governor DeWine’s response to the virus.
One paragraph in this 748-page bill affects home educators by waiving the state requirement to submit the “results of a standardized achievement assessment” when parents submit their NOI for the 2020-21 school year. This decision was made as a part of state strategy to mitigate community spread of COVID-19 during testing/assessment meetings.
Unfortunately, the language in the bill did NOT clearly waive the entire assessment requirement. It left intact the portfolio review option which would have created confusion for parents as they prepare for next year.
CHEO’s legislative liaison, Melanie Elsey, contacted the Ohio Department of Education with a concern that this could possibly compel every family to complete a portfolio review. The ODE senior staff member explained that the Department had requested the waiver, but it was intended to waive the entire assessment requirement in rule -04.
Consequently, the ODE is taking the extra step of communicating guidance to all school districts to ensure that the interpretation of this provision is that no school district shall require the parent of any home educated student to submit ANY form of an assessment report when re-notifying for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Just to be clear, this was not a legislative process that allowed CHEO or HSLDA the opportunity for any type of input. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the language wasn’t publicly available until after the omnibus amendment was passed. There was no draft to review…no committee process…no opportunity for input ahead of the consideration of amendments like normal. These are not “normal” times. This is simply a drafting error in the un-codified portion of HB197 and not intended to create issues for families. Rest assured, nothing has been added to your school year and this is not a permanent change.
We are thankful that Melanie was able to step in and quickly get clarification with ODE. We are also incredibly grateful to all the hard work and effort by legislators and other personnel in considering the needs of students both in traditional school settings and home educators.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
CHEO OFFICE: 740-522-2460
AMENDED SUB. H.B.197
(on pages 724-725 of the House concurred version)
Section 17. (L) No school district shall require the parent of any student who was instructed at home in accordance with section 3321.04 of the Revised Code for the 2019-2020 school year to submit to the district superintendent the results of a standardized achievement assessment administered to the student as a condition of the district allowing the student to continue to receive home instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.