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Even Scaled Back, PARCC Still Has Big Problems

The Fordham Foundation has a good blog post detailing the impacts that PARCCs proposal to scale back testing would have
The spring 2015 testing window for PARCC extended from mid-February to mid-May. That’s a long time. Of course, schools were not required to administer exams throughout the full testing window—they could use as few or as many of the days within the window as they needed. But for students, parents, and educators, the three-month window probably made “testing season” feel unusually long and drawn out. (In contrast, Ohio’s old state exams were administered over the course of roughly one month.) It also meant that testing interrupted classroom instruction for more of the school year—and earlier.

The reason for the long testing window was fairly simple: The assessment system included two exams. The first, the “performance-based assessment” (PBA), was given in February–March, and the second— the “end-of-year assessment” (EOY)—was given in April–May. The PBAs focused on students’ application of knowledge and skills (e.g., solving multi-step problems, explaining mathematical reasoning), while the EOYs focused more on traditional assessment items like reading comprehension or straightforward multiple-choice math problems. See for yourself the differences in the sample PARCC exams.

But starting in spring 2016, PARCC will be administered in one thirty-day testing window, occurring in the traditional testing period of April–May. Importantly, while the earlier PBA testing window is erased, some of PARCC’s performance-based tasks will be preserved in next year’s summative exam.
This is clearly movement in the right direction, but fixes just a fraction of the problems PARCC has, and has created. We detailed these problems, with our suggested fixes a few weeks ago. We identified 4 broad areas that needed to be addressed. Testing time, technology problems, test content problems, and high stakes.

Law makers cannot simply cut back on some tests and think the job is done. Are we still going to have schools struggle to deploy tech heavy testing solutions, on unstable software platforms with inadequate bandwidth? Combining the PBA and the EOY testing into a single test is likely to exacerbate the content problems, not alleviate them - and yet more change applied to a system under constant change isn't an appropriate environment to have mis-matched stakes for students, teachers and schools.

The Ohio legislature needs to address the full range of problems, not just the politically convenient changes PARCC has recently proposed in the face of losing millions of dollars in funding.

HB74 Takes Axe To State Testing

HB74 pass the Ohio House 92-1, and has a wide range of provisions affecting student testing.

HOUSE BILL 74 SUMMARY (As Reported by H. Education)

Academic content standards

  • Requires the State Board of Education, within 30 days of the bill's effective date, to provide an online opportunity on the website of the Department of Education to make comments on specific academic content standards.
  • Requires each academic standards review committee (established under current law), by September 30, 2015, to submit its review and determinations of the academic content standards and state assessments to the State Board and Department of Education.
  • Requires the State Board, by June 30, 2016, to review the current academic content standards, taking into consideration the input from the academic standards review committees and the comments posted on the Department's website, and to adopt revised academic content standards for each of grades K-12 in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

Achievement assessments

  • Requires the Department of Education, within 30 days of the bill's effective date, to issue a request for proposals to provide the elementary achievement assessments and the high school end-of-course examinations for administration by school districts and schools beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Prohibits certain multistate consortia, or their agents or subsidiaries, from being eligible to submit a proposal to provide the elementary assessments and end-of- course examinations.
  • Limits to three hours per assessment the duration of the administration of each state elementary achievement assessment beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Limits to three hours per year the duration of the administration of each high school end-of-course examination beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Specifies that the bill's time limits do not apply to (1) assessments for students with disabilities, (2) the nationally standardized assessments that measure college and career readiness, (3) the third-grade English language arts assessment, (4) any diagnostic assessment for students who did not pass the third-grade English language arts assessment, or (5) substitute examinations in science, American history, or American government.
  • Reduces, from twice annually to once annually, the administration of the third- grade English language arts assessment beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, and prohibits school districts from being required to administer that assessment in the fall.
  • Eliminates the requirement for school districts and schools to administer all of the writing diagnostic assessments in grades K-3, and the requirement for the mathematics diagnostic assessments to be administered in kindergarten and first grade.
  • Requires the Department to specify not less than two mathematics diagnostic assessments that are approved for (1) identifying students as gifted in mathematics and (2) the student academic growth component of teacher evaluations.
  • Requires the reading diagnostic assessment to be completed by September 30 of each year for students in grades one to three.
  • Limits the duration of the administration of the kindergarten readiness diagnostic assessment to one hour.
  • Specifies August 1, instead of "the first day of the school year" as under current law, as the earliest date by which a student may take the kindergarten readiness diagnostic assessment.
  • Permits a school district or school to administer the kindergarten readiness diagnostic assessment all at one time or in portions at different times, so long as the assessment has been administered in its entirety by November 1 of the school year.
  • Requires the Department, by July 1, 2016, to make available a kindergarten literacy assessment that districts and schools may use in lieu of the kindergarten readiness assessment.
  • Requires the Department, by December 31, 2016, to complete a study comparing nationally normed, standardized assessments approved by the Department for specified purposes and the state elementary assessments administered during both the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years.
  • Eliminates the English language arts II and geometry end-of-course examinations.
  • Requires the State Board of Education, by March 1, 2016, to (1) compile a list of multiple assessments that are equivalent to the end-of-course examinations for use instead of the end-of-course examinations and (2) identify a table of corresponding score equivalents that correlate to the current achievement levels (advanced, accelerated, proficient, basic, and limited) for all end-of-course examinations.
  • Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, requires a district or school to notify the Department of any assessment in a subject area that it elects to use as an equivalent examination, and requires that the notification be made by September 15 of each year.
  • Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, authorizes a school district to use end-of- course examinations, substitute examinations, or equivalent examinations as final examinations for the related class or course of study.
  • Specifies that, for purposes of substitute examinations and equivalent examinations, a score of 2 on an Advanced Placement (AP) examination and a score of 3 on an International Baccalaureate (IB) examination are to be considered equivalent to a "proficient" score.
  • Prohibits a school district from charging a student for (1) any of the nationally standardized assessments that measure college and career readiness, (2) any end-of-course examination, (3) any substitute examination, or (4) any equivalent examination, unless the examination is an AP or IB examination.
  • Requires the Department to identify and approve at least two assessments that can be used for multiple purposes, including (1) a diagnostic assessment administered to third-grade students, (2) an assessment that permits a student to demonstrate an acceptable level of performance for purposes of the third-grade reading guarantee, and (3) an assessment used to identify students as gifted in specific academic ability fields in reading, writing, or both.
  • Requires the Department to develop a table of assessments that may be used for multiple purposes and for which a measure of student performance or aptitude is required, in order to reduce the total number of assessments administered by a school district or school.
  • Requires the Department, within 90 days of the bill's effective date, to determine which components of the resident educator performance-based assessment may be used as part of the teacher evaluation system.
  • Extends through the 2015-2016 school year a current provision prohibiting the Department from requiring school districts, other public schools, and chartered nonpublic schools to administer any state achievement assessment in an online format.
  • Requires the Department to conduct a comprehensive survey of the capacity and readiness of each school district for the online administration of the state achievement assessments based on recommended specifications for such administration of the assessments and to report the results of the survey to the Governor, the State Board of Education, and the chairpersons and ranking members of the House and Senate Education Committees by June 30, 2016.
  • Requires the Department to study the impact on student performance of the online administration of the state achievement assessments and submit results of the study to the General Assembly and Governor by June 30, 2016.
  • Requires the State Board, by November 1, 2015, to make a recommendation on whether to extend by one year the safe harbor provisions in effect for the 2014-2015 school year for students, public school districts and schools, and teachers.
  • Requires the Department, except as otherwise prescribed by federal law, to consider as an acceptable measure of technical skill attainment (1) an industry-recognized credential or (2) a license issued by a state agency or board for practice in a vocation that requires an examination for issuance of that license.
  • Prohibits the Department from requiring a student to take additional technical assessments regardless of whether the student has earned the credential or taken the licensure examination at the time the technical assessments would otherwise be administered.
  • Requires the State Board to periodically revise the nationally recognized job skills assessment that it selects for use as a pathway to high school graduation and to do so with input from individuals and educators who have a background in career- technical education.
  • Prescribes the manner in which the governing body of a school district, community school, STEM school, or educational service center must evaluate the student academic growth component of a teacher for purposes of teacher evaluations.
  • Requires, for the 2014-2015 school year only, a school district or school to use a different measure of student progress for purposes of teacher evaluations, if the district or school has entered into memorandum of understanding with the teachers' labor union stipulating that the value-added progress dimension rating for the 2014- 2015 school year will not be used when making decisions regarding dismissal, retention, tenure, or compensation.
  • Requires the State Board to submit recommendations to the Governor, to the chairperson and ranking members of the House and Senate Education committees, and to the State Board itself on how to revise by July 1, 2016, the framework for the evaluation of teachers to reduce the estimated time necessary to complete teacher evaluations.

State report cards

  • Specifies a schedule of deadlines by which the State Board of Education must adopt rules establishing the proficiency percentages required to be considered meeting performance indicators.
  • Removes the prohibition on the Superintendent of Public Instruction from establishing a performance indicator for passage of the third- or fourth-grade English language arts assessments that is based solely on the fall administration of those assessments.
  • Delays until July 1, 2017, the date by which the State Board must adopt the high school student academic progress measure.
  • Makes optional the inclusion of the high school student academic progress measure as an ungraded measure.
  • Delays until the 2017-2018 school year the assignment of a separate letter grade for the high school student academic progress measure and the inclusion of that grade in a district's or building's overall letter grade.
  • Requires that a district's or school's overall letter grades, component grades, and each performance measure grade be expressed as a percentage of total possible points, in addition to the required letter grades on the state report card.

The Full LSC analysis can be found below

HOUSE BILL 74 SUMMARY (As Reported by H. Education)

1917 Paper Highlights How Antiquated Modern Corporate Reformers Are

Corporate reformers may like to think many of their ideas are new and ground breaking, but as this paper published in 1917 demonstrates, their ideas are old and antiquated. The paper titled the “Problems of Teacher Measurement” was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology by B. F. Pittenger. The full paper can be read below. We've highlighted a number of relevant passages to demonstrate how what was once old is now new again.

Clearly, almost 100 years later, some are still trying and failing. Teaching is far too complex a discipline, with too many variable inputs, to be boiled down to a single number, no matter how fancy ones formula might be.

Problems of Teacher Measurement

May 2015 School Levy Results

Ohio schools that had an issue or levy on the May 5th, 2015 ballot mostly had a great night. The passage rate was the highest JTF has tracked for a May primary since we began tracking in 2012.

Failed Passed Grand Total Pass Rate
New 13 22 35 62.9%
Renewal 3 63 66 95.5%
Grand Total 16 85 101 84.2%

The passgae of renewal levies was a little higher than typical, but the passage of new levies was considerably higher than the recent trend.

Here's the full list of preliminary results

County Local N/R Votes For Votes Against Result
Allen Elida Local Renewal 67.8% 32.2% Passed
Ashland Hillsdale Local Renewal 58.5% 41.5% Passed
Ashtabula Grand Valley Local Renewal 60.5% 39.5% Passed
Auglaize New Bremen Local Renewal 77.2% 22.8% Passed
Belmont Shadyside Local Renewal 63.7% 36.3% Passed
Belmont Shadyside Local Renewal 63.1% 36.9% Passed
Butler Edgewood City New 57.2% 42.8% Passed
Carroll Brown Local Renewal 49.8% 50.2% Failed
Clark Northeastern Local New 53.7% 46.3% Passed
Clark Springfield City Renewal 64.9% 35.1% Passed
Coshocton Coshocton County JVS New 57.5% 42.5% Passed
Crawford Crestline EV New 40.0% 60.0% Failed
Crawford Wynford Local Renewal 75.5% 24.5% Passed
Crawford Wynford Local Renewal 76.0% 24.0% Passed
Cuyahoga Brooklyn City Renewal 55.8% 44.2% Passed
Cuyahoga Cleveland Heights-University Heights City New 43.3% 56.7% Failed
Cuyahoga Garfield Heights City Renewal 52.9% 47.1% Passed
Cuyahoga Warrensville Heights City Renewal 87.0% 13.0% Passed
Cuyahoga Westlake City New 48.8% 51.2% Failed
Darke Ansonia Local Renewal 70.9% 29.1% Passed
Defiance Ayersville Local New 51.6% 48.4% Passed
Delaware Big Walnut Local New 68.7% 31.3% Passed
Fairfield Walnut Township Local New 45.2% 54.8% Failed
Fayette Miami Trace Local New 51.9% 48.1% Passed
Geauga Kenston Local New 57.8% 42.2% Passed
Geauga West Geauga Renewal 68.1% 31.9% Passed
Greene Beavercreek City Renewal 53.8% 46.2% Passed
Greene Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local New 60.2% 39.8% Passed
Greene Xenia Community City Renewal 58.8% 41.2% Passed
Greene Xenia Community City Renewal 58.5% 41.5% Passed
Greene Yellow Springs EV Renewal 87.3% 12.7% Passed
Hamilton Lockland Local New 48.6% 51.4% Failed
Hamilton Northwest Local New 47.3% 52.7% Failed
Hamilton Winton Woods City New 28.6% 71.4% Failed
Hancock Arcadia Local Renewal 65.4% 34.6% Passed
Hancock McComb Local Renewal 65.5% 34.5% Passed
Hardin Ridgemont Local Renewal 52.9% 47.1% Passed
Henry Patrick Henry Local Renewal 51.2% 48.8% Passed
Huron Monroeville Local New 61.5% 38.5% Passed
Knox Mount Vernon City Renewal 68.9% 31.1% Passed
Licking Heath City Renewal 70.8% 29.2% Passed
Licking North Fork Local Renewal 51.0% 49.0% Passed
Licking Southwest Licking Local Renewal 74.0% 26.0% Passed
Lorain Avon Local New 57.1% 42.9% Passed
Lorain Clearview Local Renewal 50.9% 49.1% Passed
Lorain Columbia Local Renewal 51.2% 48.8% Passed
Lorain Columbia Local Renewal 49.8% 50.2% Failed
Lorain Firelands Local Renewal 62.4% 37.6% Passed
Lorain Keystone Local New 53.8% 46.2% Passed
Lorain Sheffield-Sheffield Lake City New 55.6% 44.4% Passed
Lucas Springfield Local New 60.9% 39.1% Passed
Mahoning South Range Local New 39.4% 60.6% Failed
Marion River Valley Local New 45.1% 54.9% Failed
Medina Cloverleaf Local Renewal 60.6% 39.4% Passed
Mercer Celina City Renewal 72.7% 27.3% Passed
Mercer Parkway Local Renewal 93.0% 7.0% Passed
Miami Bethel Local Renewal 59.5% 40.5% Passed
Miami Tipp City EV New 51.2% 48.8% Passed
Miami Troy City Renewal 69.2% 30.8% Passed
Montgomery Brookville Local Renewal 67.0% 33.0% Passed
Montgomery Brookville Local Renewal 66.4% 33.6% Passed
Montgomery Kettering City Renewal 68.5% 31.5% Passed
Montgomery Northridge Local New 59.8% 40.2% Passed
Montgomery Valley View Local Renewal 62.6% 37.4% Passed
Montgomery Valley View Local Renewal 63.1% 36.9% Passed
Ottawa Genoa Area Local Renewal 69.6% 30.4% Passed
Ottawa Genoa Area Local New 57.2% 42.8% Passed
Pickaway Logan Elm Local Renewal 69.1% 30.9% Passed
Pickaway Logan Elm Local Renewal 69.5% 30.5% Passed
Portage Aurora City Renewal 67.0% 33.0% Passed
Portage Crestwood Local Renewal 65.5% 34.5% Passed
Ross Zane Trace Local New 56.2% 43.8% Passed
Sandusky Woodmore Local Renewal 47.2% 52.8% Failed
Sandusky Woodmore Local New 35.1% 64.9% Failed
Seneca Seneca East Local Renewal 66.4% 33.6% Passed
Shelby Jackson Center Local Renewal 60.1% 39.9% Passed
Stark Fairless Local New 46.8% 53.2% Failed
Stark Lake Local New 53.6% 46.4% Passed
Summit Coventry Local Renewal 55.5% 44.5% Passed
Summit Manchester Local Renewal 64.8% 35.2% Passed
Summit Manchester Local Renewal 65.8% 34.2% Passed
Summit Mogadore Local New 52.5% 47.5% Passed
Summit Stow-Munroe Falls City Renewal 71.4% 28.6% Passed
Trumbull Hubbard EV Renewal 76.7% 23.3% Passed
Trumbull Lakeview Local New 56.0% 44.0% Passed
Trumbull Liberty Local Renewal 55.3% 44.7% Passed
Trumbull Lordstown Local Renewal 68.7% 31.3% Passed
Trumbull Lordstown Local Renewal 67.9% 32.1% Passed
Trumbull Maplewood Local Renewal 63.7% 36.3% Passed
Trumbull Newton Falls EV Renewal 72.0% 28.0% Passed
Warren Kings Local Renewal 72.5% 27.5% Passed
Warren Warren County JVS New 38.3% 61.7% Failed
Wayne Norwayne Local Renewal 65.1% 34.9% Passed
Wayne Orrville City Renewal 70.2% 29.8% Passed
Wayne Rittman EV Renewal 79.2% 20.8% Passed
Wayne Southeast Local New 49.3% 50.7% Failed
Williams Edon Northwest Local New 57.6% 42.4% Passed
Wood Bowling Green City Renewal 69.3% 30.7% Passed
Wood Bowling Green City Renewal 68.8% 31.2% Passed
Wood North Baltimore Local Renewal 64.1% 35.9% Passed
Wood Rossford EV New 58.7% 41.3% Passed

Senate Advisory Committee On Testing Recommendations

The Senate Advisory Committee on Testing, appointed March 4th by Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina), has completed its recommendations to improve state testing for next school year. The 30 member committee chaired by State Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) was created following the rocky rollout of the new state assessments in February. Teachers, parents, school leaders and policymakers serving on the committee were charged with providing advice to the Senate on how to improve state testing.

A written recommendation is currently being prepared. It will include the following components:

  • The new twice a year administration of tests that occurred this winter and spring should be scaled back to once a year and the tests should be shortened. The testing window should be closer to the end of the school year to provide more time for classroom instruction and less disruption in learning.
  • Accommodations for children with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) must be improved and more clearly communicated to parents and schools. Training must be provided for intervention specialists and paraprofessionals who assist students with IEPs.
  • Test results must be returned in a timely manner to benefit student instruction – although the group recognized that results from a writing test may not be able to be returned as quickly as the rest of the results.
  • Transparency – test questions and answers must be made available within a reasonable timeframe after the administration of the tests to ensure the tests are aligned to Ohio’s learning standards and that questions are developmentally appropriate for grade level.
  • Online testing is necessary and schools must plan to move in that direction; however, local schools must continue to have the option to administer paper/pencil tests for at least the next two school years. State funding for technology based on need should be considered.
  • A single technology platform is preferable for next year’s tests. Improvements in technology are needed to ensure smooth administration of the tests.
  • A “safe harbor” must be in place that allows results from this year’s tests to be reported but students, teachers or schools should not be penalized for results this year due to the transition to a new test and the concern that results may not accurately reflect a student’s achievement level.
  • A comprehensive communications plan must be developed to provide parents, teachers, school leaders and the general public with clearer information about the tests.
  • If the current vendors for state tests - PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College & Careers) for the math and English language arts assessments and AIR (American Institute for Research) for the science and social studies assessments will not make changes to the test for next year to accommodate these issues, the Ohio Department of Education must find a test vendor that will.

Ohio Charters Just Don't Work

As we wait to see what the Ohio General Assembly presents as charter school reform, Steve Dyer has taken a 3 part look at why Ohio's charter schools just don't work.

You can read part one, part two and part three in full, but here's a brief synopsis of his findings.

Part One

...the amount of money going to worse-performing charters is more than $430 million, and if you include charters that perform the same, it's now more than $500 million that goes from the same or higher-performing districts to the same or worse-performing charters.

Part Two

Charters do worse on the report card than districts with greater challenges. So that means that while charters' poor performance compared with districts overall can perhaps be explained by more challenging populations, districts with greater challenges are doing better. So charters are not, on the whole, doing a better job serving our state's most challenging students than districts with more challenges than the charter faces.

Part Three

Ohio’s charter schools perform worse overall than all local public school buildings, including those in the Big 8 urban districts (Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown) – the areas where charters were supposed to offer better alternatives. Charters register lower percentages of As and Bs while having higher percentages of Ds and Fs than local public schools.

Remember that 45% of charter school students do not come from Ohio's urban core -- one of the myths dealt with in yesterday's post.

It is exceedingly unfair cherry picking for charter schools to take money and children from every district in the state, yet only have their performance compared with the most historically struggling schools in the state.

Dyer looks at a whole range of metrics to compare charter schools to traditional public schools, including sub groups. Charter schools simply do not work in Ohio. A key test for any charter school reform effort will be if they close down the bulk of the failing schools and create an environment where only quality charter schools can develop. We're still highly skeptical.

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