ODE bids adieu to PARCC, AIR takes over

Joseph Pratt

[email protected]

To the relief of many, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) is forced to say goodbye to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing this week, after a limited run lasting only one year.

Ohio’s partnership with PARCC ended after Governor John Kasich signed his budget bill into law this week, banning the state of Ohio from spending any money with the vendor. The change is speculated to have been a result of schools, students, educators, and parents all expressing difficulty and major issues with the system.

Ohio is just one of many states across the county that is pulling away from PARCC testing and looking for alternative vendors of testing.

Clay Local High School Principal Todd Warnock said that the long testing process was stressful for many in his school and began in February, only just nearing into the second half of the year, and did not end until May.

“The worst aspect (of PARCC) was the time that it took out of school year,” Warnock said. “We had to test in so many areas and they were so long. The first, and largest portion of PARCC was the preliminary test in February.Basically, kids need to know everything to test well in February when they had only just started the second semester. Once we started PARCC in February, we were either testing that (PARCC), the Ohio Graduation Test or tge AIR (American Institute of Research) up until May 8.”

Warnock also complained that the testing took a lot from the instruction process, and the school in general, because they had to constantly pull staff to administer the tests.

ODE announced Wednesday that the new vendor for the English and mathematics portion of state common core testing will be the AIR, which is an organization they have worked with to administer tests in other subjects for over a decade.

A representative of the ODE said that no final numbers on the cost for the AIR English and mathematics tests are currently available, but they believe them to be “very comparable” to what Ohio paid PARCC for last year at $26 million for online and paper tests.

Another major issue educators had with AIR and PARCC testing this year was with data release dates from the vendors and ODE.

Warnock said that over the years the process in which schools received data and scores has changed drastically, and in a way that doesn’t help the students.

Previously, ODE has released scores and shown statistics on what questions students answered incorrectly. This data was released before summer so that teachers could guide students and also shape their next year’s curriculum.

PARCC results have jumped release dates, back and forth, between December and October and November of the next academic school year. Additionally, the only information included will be whether a student passed a subject or not, which Warnock says makes the entire process moot for the students.

Wednesday, the ODE stated that they do not currently know if the release dates will come any sooner with the complete transition to AIR, but they hope to get them out by the end of June each year.

The ODE is excited to reinvent their English and mathematics testing, however, stating they will be catered to Ohio students.

“We have used AIR for over a decade,” Ohio Superintendent Dr. Richard Ross said. “The tests are not coming off a shelf; this is something Ohio teachers will be working with us on to develop a test for English language arts and mathematics and has nothing to do with smarter balance or any other consortium.”

Additionally, ODE stated that the new process will be done during single testing times and in the spring.

“The standards are remaining the same, so the testing will be worked out over the next few months. We are pleased that there will only be one testing window, rather than the months we tested this past school year,” Portsmouth City Schools Superintendent Scott Dutey said. “It seems to be another example of the state rushing into something and then having to backtrack due to the issues associated with it.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03