Ohio scraps PARCC testing

MIAMI COUNTY — Ohio became the latest state to pull out of the PARCC Common Core testing consortium after months of angry complaints about the new online tests having too many technology glitches and eating up far too much learning time for students.

In signing the state’s two-year budget bill June 30, Gov. John Kasich agreed with leaders of the Ohio House and Senate that PARCC’s math and English exams cannot continue in Ohio.

The state spent $26 million and educators spent four years to create the math and English tests for students. After dumping the standardized tests, the state will now have months to work with American Institutes for Research on new tests for next year or risk losing millions in federal funding.

Miami East Superintendent Todd Rappold said thankfully, his district did not have any technology glitches and were pleased on that front, but the amount of time spent testing was not conductive.

“The sheer volume of time needed to complete two rounds of testing of our students certainly took valuable time away from the classroom,” he said. “Our hope is that with this testing change the amount of time required to test will be reduced.”

Troy City Schools Superintendent Eric Herman agreed the amount of time testing took was a big problem. The two rounds of testing cut into classroom instruction time. Add into the mix the impact of winter weather and school delays or closings and the problem compounded.

“My concern was that there was very little instruction time between the first bout of testing and the second,” he said. “It had to affect our student’s ability to be ready for the large volume of content being tested. Teachers struggled to cover all the material that was needed to prepare students.”

He said that while the content being tested wasn’t necessarily the problem, PARCC testing was too much too fast and not really knowing what the assessment was like was very difficult for our teaching staff.

“Many times they had to use their best judgment on exactly what they were looking for in an answer,” he said. “There was not enough information provided by Ohio Department of Education to help give direction. The test along with everything else that was in process caused a lot or unnecessary stress for all involved.”

Newton Local Schools Superintendent Pat McBride said the lack of clarity for how districts and teachers should implement the tests were problematic.

“The instructions were confusing,” he said. “On many occasions, teachers were left to ‘figure it out’ on their own. Obviously, this added to the incredible amount of time it took to administer and take these tests.”

Newton’s computer labs were booked solid for 21 straight school days. On average, some grade levels tested for the equivalent to four full days of instruction during the weeks they were testing, which McBride said wasted a lot of educational time.

“The intent is to make districts more accountable for educating kids,” he said. “I understand that. However, highly functioning schools that were already providing quality instructional programming to their students before all of this testing didn’t need this type of accountability that requires a massive testing matrix for the students we educate.”

Ohio educators are now tasked to work with AIR to create English and math tests that are shorter and can be taken in a single testing window for the 2015-2016 school year.