The subject of PARCC testing has been in the news lately and we thought it might be helpful to concisely state our district’s position on the subject.
As we write this, it is February 24, 2015 and we are entering the first full week of PARCC testing. This means we are early in the process and as we learn more, these positions are likely to reflect the data that comes to us from actual experience.
First, it needs to be restated that Worthington strongly supports the state’s new academic standards for Math, English Language Arts, Science and Social Studies. The repeal of Ohio’s New Learning Standards would be devastating to our district. In Worthington we have spent the past several years working together with our teachers to learn the new standards, purchase materials to best teach the new standards, and create locally developed curriculum based upon the new standards. The topic of how to best assess our progress on those standards is a different subject than the standards themselves.
We believe that the PARCC assessments must change if they are to remain viable. While we acknowledge a common concern with the OAA methodology was that kids were tested on a single day, PARCC has swung the pendulum too far in the other direction. There are far too many testing events. We will suggest to the Ohio legislature that they conduct a review of the assessments to determine specifically whether the total time on task is necessary to accurately assess whether learning has occurred and whether the testing events can be consolidated to minimize disruption to the educational program.
We believe that if this assessment system is to remain in place PARCC must return results in a timely fashion. It is unacceptable to not receive the results of the assessment until well into the next school year – far too late to adjust curriculum, building level plans, or to appropriately differentiate instruction for individual students. While assessments have as a partial goal determining the efficacy of our program in different buildings and for our faculty, their main function must be to provide information about how to maximize learning for every student, and an 8 month delay in receiving the results doesn’t do that.
For our district to administer the assessments and limit the disruption to the instructional day PARCC assessments must have a consistent testing length. PARCC has variable length tests which are creating scheduling and logistical nightmares.
In Worthington we strongly oppose the legislation that attempts to limit testing to a percentage of the school year. The assessments need to be the minimum amount of time required to assess achievement on the standards. Artificially limiting the time does not serve this purpose.
Worthington strongly opposes legislation that in any way attempts to limit local diagnostic tests. These are invaluable to the educational program in our district.
Worthington supports local control with state oversight in the area of testing. In our preferred legislative solution, the Ohio Department of Education should have a series of Common Core aligned assessments that are pre-approved. Local districts can then select whichever assessment(s) are right for that district. The results can then be normed statewide.
Finally, while we work with our legislators to create a better assessment system for the near future, our teachers, administrators, and support staff, will do everything possible to administer PARCC tests this year in a manner that supports our students and limits test based anxiety and the disruption of instructional time as much as is possible.
– Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent