ODE In Deep Denial Over PARCC Test Results

Even after PARCC was dumped as the standardized test provided for Ohio schools, ODE continues to be in deep denial regarding the extent of the problems with standardized testing.

The Plain Dealer has the latest bombshell, and it is a bombshell to some

Test your students on paper, get an A.

Test them on online, get an F.

That's what happened most of the time on last year's state tests, the first time Ohio gave most of them online, a survey of two thirds of the school districts in the state shows. 

School districts that tested students online were whacked with F grades on a key state report card measure nine times as often as those that used paper and pencil, according the survey that will be released statewide today.

And online tests had five times fewer A grades, according to the same survey.

Of districts that tested on paper, 85% received an A. But online? Just 17%.

This isn't a recent problem. We have been reporting on this phenomenon for over 3 years. For example in a March 19, 2013 article titled "Is Ohio ready for computer testing?", we wrote

The article makes note of the possibility of paper based test takers being at a possible disadvantage over those taking the computer based tests. There has been a significant amount of research over the years on this, and the results seem to indicate the opposite effect - that computer based test takers score lower than paper based tests.

Just last month we wrote a piece asking "What Are Standardized Tests Measuring?". We concluded by noting that ODE would be better taking the time to understand exactly what all of its tests are actually measuring before getting too excited about how many students took paper vs online tests.

It doesn't appear ODE is prepared to learn anything, but instead live in deep denial about the current state of standardized testing in Ohio and what is actually being measured. Here's the Plain Dealer once again with another excellent article

But Jim Wright, the department's testing director, said the grades are reliable. He said that PARCC, a multi-state testing partnership, had a "Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)" – a panel of experts – review scores and grades across all states using its exams.

Though it found that some test questions favored students taking paper tests, others favored those taking exams online. With no clear bias for one test method, Wright said, PARCC's committee recommended making no adjustments to grades.

Other states that used PARCC have also made no adjustments, Wright said.

That's despite other PARCC states reporting lower results for online tests than those taken with paper and pencil.

"We're not saying that there's no difference," Wright said. "In some cases it was easier online and some on paper, but there was no clear direction."

PARCC's final report is not yet complete, Wright said, but it should be finished soon.

ODE needs to begin to investigate AIR testing as there is no reason to believe the same phenomenon won't be present in its results. 

All of this would be an interesting academic topic if it were not for the incredibly high stakes tied to these standardized tests - from teacher's careers and job prospects, to a schools ability to be funded and supported by their communities to the very real chance they could be undemocratically taken over and strip-mined then converted into low performing charter schools.

Time for ODE to get out of its denial phase and in to some proactive action to address all these mounting problems.