We have the best schools in the state and we cannot allow the bureaucrats in Columbus to reduce our community pride through faulty testing and flawed report cards. A little over a year ago, we were celebrating the fine work of our local schools. When the Ohio Report Cards first came out, each of the 27 schools in Auglaize, Darke, Mercer and Shelby counties proved they are the best schools in the state. This past month, new report cards have questioned the success of our schools, but we must continue taking the same steps that have always made our schools more successful than others statewide.
When I’m traveling Ohio and spending several days in Columbus each week, it is frequently commented how lucky we are in western Ohio. To make it simple — the rest of the state is jealous of the superior academics, athletics and families we have in western Ohio. We are all very proud of our success when compared to peers on the state and national stage. This success, however, has caused bureaucrats and elitists to target our schools.
Currently, the national trend in education policy has been to promote weakness and mediocrity, saying that Bs and Cs are successful when we should be reaching for an A. That is why you hear the term, “rigor,” when bureaucrats and elitists push the Common Core and PARCC testing. Instead of encouraging success, they rig the system so excellence is unattainable and reward those who have failed to meet the mark. In western Ohio, anything less than the best provides fodder to work harder for better results. Since our schools have consistently exceeded expectations, the bureaucrats have rigged the system to guarantee failure, which is unacceptable.
The results from the 2013-2014 school year showed that five of the top 25 schools in the state were from the 84th House District. Those five schools achieved a very high performance index score between 109 and 110. This year, four of those five schools are no longer in the top 25. Our schools did not get worse. In the aggregate, the 27 schools in the four counties I represent saw their performance index drop more than five points even after accounting for the impact of “opt-outs.” The PARCC test failed to accurately measure student performance and we have an opportunity to get behind our schools and encourage further success in the future.
Strong schools and great families are our recipe for success. It is really just that simple. If we choose to believe these faulty school ratings from Columbus, the fabric of our communities could be under attack. We should rally behind our school administrators, teachers and students to encourage them as we enter another testing season. Speaking of that, we need to reduce testing! Less testing, more teaching!
I don’t know if the new AIR test will be more effective than PARCC, but you can’t get much worse. This year, we cannot encourage students to “opt-out” of the test. It has been proven that opting-out just makes the results haywire and it hurts our communities. Let’s take the test and box with both gloves on. If the results are faulty again, then we will know the test just isn’t any good.
The rigor in PARCC testing was easy to find: they were rigged to hurt our communities and break our spirits. This year, let’s take on state testing by showing up for the test and prove what strong schools, communities and families can achieve.
If you want a better idea of how your school performed this year, considering the impact of students who opted-out, please review the adjusted report cards that I have produced for your convenience. You can see those report cards at tinyurl.com/adjustedreportcards.
Please give me your opinion on this topic and others in the news this month by completing an online survey at tinyurl.com/buchymarch2016.
The writer represents the 84th District in the Ohio House of Representatives.