Call the OH Senate leaders, ask them to support HB7, Safe Harbor Bill for Students.
Keith Faber – Senate President (614) 466-7584
Chris Widener – President Pro Tempore (614) 466-3780
Larry Obhof – Majority Whip (614) 466-7505
Tom Patton – Majority Floor Leader (614) 466-8056
Governor Kasich’s Constituent Hotline (614) 644-4357
Sen. Shannon Jones (614) 466-9737
Sen. Bill Seitz ((614) 466-8068
Read what Princeton High School (OH) Social Studies Chair has to say about unfounded claims, over-testing, and corporatization of education ushered in by Common Core.
South Lebanon resident Jim O’Connor is chair of the social studies department at Princeton High School and father of two middle school students.
As a parent, educator, taxpayer and citizen of Ohio, I cannot help but continue to question the actions of the state Department of Education in rapidly expanding the use of standardized testing in our public schools. Likewise, many parents are looking at “opt-out options” for their children; teachers and principals fret at the loss of instructional time and local autonomy; superintendents are courageously taking opposition stances; and students anxiously anticipate how they are going to score and be labeled after taking the New Ohio Tests.
The New Ohio Tests replace the Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA) and the Ohio Graduation Tests (OGT). The OAAs were created to comply with the No Child Left Behind provisions to test all third- through eighth-students each year in reading and math. The OGTs (reading, writing, math, science and social studies) were added as a high school graduation requirement.
Let’s take a look at two questions surrounding the creation and implementation of the next generation of assessments in Ohio. First, what vetting process was used to select PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) and AIR (American Institute of Research) tests? Second, are these new assessments developmentally appropriate for the students soon to be subjected to a three-months high-stakes testing cycle?
The vetting process starts with a decision the ODE made in 2009 to become a Common Core state. Initially, Common Core was a state initiative to create more rigorous standards in English and Math. Forty-five states, including Ohio, signed up. The federal government then created the Race to the Top program, nationalizing key aspects of a movement that had strictly stated the federal government would not be involved.
Race to the Top was a competition among states for federal funding, with strings attached. States had to promise to implement school reforms favored by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to cash in. The federal government then awarded two testing companies $360 million to develop the Math and ELA assessments. Pearson/PARCC was one of those companies.
In 2011 and 2012, the Ohio Department of Education decided, with very little public input, that PARCC and AIR tests would take over our schools starting in 2014-15. These mostly online tests have two, three and four parts to them, were not systemically field tested, and are written, according to many research measurement experts, two reading grade levels above the grade of the students subjected to this monolithic mess called national standardized testing.
The scores of the spring assessments will not be available until next fall, after students have moved on to the next grade. Effective testing is suppose to yield immediate results and used diagnostically to help students. The New Ohio Tests accomplish neither.
While other states and the school district formerly run by Duncan – Chicago Public – dropped out of Common Core national testing (only 12 PARCC states remain), several high-ranking Ohio Board of Regents and ODE officials, including its superintendent, decided to join PARCC and serve on its Governing Board and Advisory Committees. It was a fait accompli for our students, teachers, administrators and parents.
Princeton City Schools Interim Superintendent Ed Theroux recently asked whether the new testing helps schools accomplish their mission. “We want to be held accountable to ensure that every child succeeds,” he said. “We want data and information that will positively drive instruction in order to ensure that all children are achieving at high levels and are prepared for the next grade level and life.”
Ohio students, families, teachers and administrators deserve a much better approach to authentic learning and meaningful assessments than what has been forced upon us by a publishing conglomerate, an aloof research institute and our own Department of Education.