The following statement is attributed to Becky Higgins, president of the Ohio Education Association:
“As Ohio gets ready to implement the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests, a school superintendent recently told the Senate Education Committee what has been apparent to OEA members for some time – ‘Ohio is not yet ready for it.’ Matthew Miller, superintendent of the Mentor Schools in Lake County, described ‘fatal errors’ in the practice run of the PARCC assessments recently conducted at the Mentor Schools.
He said numerous students were booted off the system and ‘could not resume even after refreshing teacher screens.’ He also described bugs in the system that prevented students from submitting their answers even after responding to all the questions. Superintendent Miller told the Committee that if Mentor is having a problem with PARCC – with its ‘robust technology infrastructure’ – then “the rest of Ohio’s schools will be having issues as well.”
Other superintendents pointed to what teachers all across the state have been saying – the ‘lack of timely and firmly established guidance’ from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) in helping districts to get ready for the PARCC exams. Several superintendents agreed with another issue for which OEA has been advocating. It was articulated by Sue Lang, the superintendent of the Wyoming City School District in Hamilton County, who urged the Committee to ‘consider this year as a PARCC transitional year……do not count the PARCC on the state report cards and do not count scores against teachers and students.’
Well before this year’s implementation of PARCC, OEA has been urging state lawmakers to go beyond the ‘safe harbor’ provisions that were signed into law last year that placed a one-year hold on high-stakes decisions based on test scores. It is increasingly clear that ‘safe harbor’ protections must be extended beyond the current school year and should also be granted to students.
The urgency of addressing the problems associated with PARCC is also part and parcel of the need to do something about the overall excessive use of testing in our schools. More and more superintendents are echoing what professional educators in Ohio have been saying for some time – allow more instructional time, and less testing, to drive student achievement. The longer it takes for lawmakers to address the testing issue, the greater the likelihood is that more parents will choose to have their children ‘opt out’ of some of these tests.
The growing number of ‘opt-outs’ puts educators in an untenable situation. Not only could educators see their own evaluations adversely impacted by high-performing students who chose not to take a test, the results of which are a factor in measuring teacher performance, but as the Avon Lake Superintendent told the Senate Education Committee, he doesn’t want to have teachers placed in a position of lying to parents that all this is workable.
Changing the way students are tested and teachers are evaluated in Ohio cannot happen soon enough. OEA will continue to push hard for that to happen.”
The Ohio Education Association represents 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohio's public schools, colleges and universities.