Testing season is quickly approaching for students across Ohio. After the debacle with PARCC last year, the legislature has taken great strides to ensure that this year’s experience goes much more smoothly, producing better and more accurate results.
This year, students will be taking the AIR test, which has produced much better results in the past than PARCC, and we are expecting good, reliable results. This exam will be primarily administered using computers unless the school’s administration opted for paper testing before the Jan. 11 deadline. However, with the release of the school report cards for last year, we have found that this may not be the best route for testing.
On Jan. 14, the first round of school report cards was released. Their results showed that students who took paper versions of the PARCC examination did markedly better compared to peers who took the online test. These results were consistent between schools and even among students within the same schools. The disparity between scores even caused a delay in the release of the report cards because of concerns over the integrity of the results.
After reviewing this evidence, many school administrators have concluded that they would rather their students take the paper version of this year’s AIR test to better the testing experience and produce a better evaluation of the progress their students have made. However, the deadline to opt for paper testing was three days before these results were made public.
The Ohio Department of Education has refused to allow schools an additional opportunity to opt for paper testing following the release of these results. Given these findings, it would be common sense to allow administrators to choose the paper option.
I have stood strong with our schools and recently sent a letter to Interim Superintendent Dr. Lonny Rivera asking him to reconsider this decision and respond with a timely plan to allow administrators an additional opportunity to opt for paper and pencil testing if they so choose. While I appreciate the benefits of electronic testing, we must measure the progress of this new technology before forcing it on our schools. If students test better using tried-and-true paper and pencil, rather than unproven online methods, we should be allowing our schools to opt into paper testing at any time they see fit.
Parents can view the adjusted report card scores for their local schools at tinyurl.com/adjustedreportcards.
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The writer represents the 84th District in the Ohio House of Representatives.