Dick Ross, the State Superintendent recently issued a statement saying schools would not lose funding if parents opted their children out of the new state tests (PARCC being one set of them). That's good news, but he also then went on to laud the tests
I know you understand the importance testing plays in an effective education system. Testing shows evidence of student progress. It provides much needed information to classroom teachers and others so they can monitor and improve student learning. Results of these assessments provide teachers perspective on what their students were able to retain and apply long term, allowing for reflection and correction in future school years.
The Trouble is, when it comes to the new state tests, that's just utter nonsense. The results of these tests won't be available for months, long after students have moved on, nor will the results be diagnostic in nature. They are also potentially developmentally inappropriate, with lots of evidence tests are being presented to students at a reading level much higher than the students actually grade.
but if you want to know just how out of touch Dick Ross is, simply look at the avalanche of public comments from the usually meek and mild school administrators.
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.
The state needs to take a hard look at the amount of testing and particularly the PARCC assessment. I am confident that you would see major improvements and support by eliminating the PARCC assessment. While I appreciate a single test that measures both student growth and teacher accountability, the PARCC test is full of poor content and developmentally misaligned material. Give us a test that is fair to our children and teachers and I guarantee we can sell it locally.
There is also no debating that there are too many state-mandated tests, that the results from these tests are constantly used inappropriately, that the results, even if meaningful, are so long in coming back to schools that they lose their worth, and that this inappropriate use is dictated by lawmakers who apparently don't know the first thing about how students are educated or how to use test data appropriately. Worse, they apparently don't want to learn given the fact that there is plenty of scientific research that refutes their claim that student test results should be used to evaluate teachers, schools, and districts.
While I am not (and never have been) an advocate of the PARCC Testing, Ohio got into this testing debacle with little to no input from local school officials. Therefore, I feel no responsibility to stick my neck out for the Department of Education by defending their decisions. What’s happening now, in my opinion, is that parents have figured out what is being forced upon their children, and the proverbial rubber… is beginning to meet the road. However, it is not our goal to discourage nor undermine the laws of our governing body.
All of these assessments require an enormous amount of preparation time on the part of our staff, and cost our district in instructional time for students and in dollars for the materials we must purchase in order to meet the state mandated requirements. No additional funding for Ohio schools accompanies the seemingly never-ending stream of state required tests. More assessments are being moved to an on-line format, requiring upgrades in technology and significant additional cost for many districts in Ohio.
We embrace accountability and realize it is essential to maintain the quality of Ohio schools. However, I ask, what kind of pressure is all this high stakes testing putting on our children? Is the goal of public education to create the best test takers in the world? For our District, the goal of public education is to help students become well-rounded individuals who are prepared for the world of work and higher education. Dublin City Schools works every day to provide our students with world-class instruction and a well-rounded education and to continuously improve in everything we do.
Our students deserve a well-rounded education beyond test scores, and need tools for success that go far beyond the skills they need to perform well on standardized tests. Creativity and innovation, the ability to think critically, communication skills, collaborative work, global awareness, financial literacy, information literacy and more are crucial components of our students’ overall development. These skills play a critical role in getting our students career and college ready. In Dublin City Schools, with the help of our extremely supportive parents and community, we are ready to meet these ongoing challenges in order to ensure our students receive a well-rounded education.
As you know, the testing monster is upon us. I know you have worked diligently to prepare our students despite the ever changing rules and expectations from the State of Ohio. Thank you!
I have attached a letter that I intend to blast out to parents later today. We have seen an uptick in the number of parents asking to opt their child(ren) out of testing. I wanted you to have this information first. In the letter, I am suggesting that parents plan to have their child(ren) take the assessments as schedule and, if they want to give their opinion, they should voice it with their state legislator. I believe we are all seeing the ramifications of this debacle. Kids and staff are stressed, systems don't work and the ODE does not have it together in regards to guidelines. That is a problem for everyone.
As we prepare for the state-wide infrastructure test this Thursday and for the first of two twenty-day test windows beginning in February, our curriculum director, special education director, EMIS coordinator, technology director, principals, assistant principals and teachers are being required to abandon their primary functional roles to prepare for these assessments. These staff members have spent countless hours and will continue to spend countless hours in these preparation activities as we continue to receive ever changing protocol guidance that often contradicts and causes follow-on support requests from your Ohio Department of Education offices. Departmental guidance has certainly been untimely, ever changing, and at certain points unknowable. I believe the unrealistically legislated timelines of implementation for all of these changes cause even more concern. Why would anyone create such a set of circumstances? We certainly will be seeing the "fruits" of this legislative wisdom coming to full fruition in the coming months.
Of added note, our district continues to incur added expenses as we work to meet all of the requirements needed to support this mandated testing without the benefit of any added financial support from the state or federal levels. Our district has spent and will continue to spend dollars on technology to support the online components of this testing, and will most likely add staff to support this assessment framework. The costs associated with all of this are being borne in large part by the local tax payers. These dollars are better spent on other needs to support our students and their learning needs.
It's hard to get more out of touch than this. No wonder the legislature are ignoring him and going ahead with a panel to investigate the problem.