SIDNEY — Preliminary spring 2015 Ohio state test results have been released and school districts are having a difficult time deciding what to make of them – if anything.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests in math and English language arts and the state’s American Institutes for Research (AIR) tests students in science and social studies.
The PARCC tests were under fire for being too hard on students, taking too much time away from classroom instruction and technical glitches with the online exams. A handful of parents even opted out their students from taking the assessments because of the controversy surrounding the tests.
In April, Republican leaders in the Ohio House placed language in the two-year budget to ban the use of new student assessments, specifically PARCC, and cut off the money to pay for them.
With this being the first year these tests were administered, there isn’t much to compare the numbers to. These preliminary results have not been verified by schools or districts, either. The final figures may differ due to re-scoring, late scoring and other changes. It’s possible some scores may even be deemed invalid.
Hardin-Houston Local Schools Superintendent Larry Claypool said he along with other superintendents in the county always want to convey to parents and the community the true ability of the students.
“With the PARCC assessment’s poor software, poor test design, the students spending many hours preparing and taking the tests and hurrying to get them done, the scores are not necessarily a true representation of the students abilities,” Claypool said. “We hope the test systems can be fixed and be better in years to come.”
Sidney City Schools Superintendent John Scheu said some of the same issues came up in their district.
“Something we dealt with was coming up with funding to purchase the computers for the students to take the tests on,” he said. “Moving from completely paper to mostly online was another challenge.”
Scheu said he is happy the state has reduced testing and is moving away from PARCC.
With the legislature blocking future use of the PARCC tests, future tests in math and language arts will be Ohio-specific tests developed by Ohio educators with the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The science and social studies tests will continue to be Ohio-specific tests developed by Ohio educators in cooperation with AIR.
Looking at the preliminary results, conclusions can be made about how Shelby County public school districts did. The graphs provided show the average percentage of students for all grades that were tested who scored proficient or above.
There are five levels a student can score on each subject: advanced, accelerated, proficient, basic, and limited. So scoring proficient or above is similar to getting an A, B or C, or getting 70 percent or more of the answers correct.
For example, 100 percent of Fort Loramie students, 24 of them, who took the High School American Government Assessment scored proficient or above; 25 percent scored advanced, 25 percent scored accelerated and 50 percent scored proficient.
This was also true with the 10 students at Jackson Center who took the Geometry Assessment. Five of them scored accelerated and five of them scored proficient.
Shelby County school districts seemed to do better in language arts and science averaging about 81 percent on scoring proficient or above, while didn’t do as well in mathematics, averaging about 76 percent on scoring proficient or above.
The mathematics assessment was an area Claypool said students had a lot of issues with. Hardin-Houston tested 500 students in math and had an average of 70.58 percent score at or above proficient.
While it appears Sidney City Schools didn’t do as well compared to other county schools, they tested a lot more students and actually did better or similar to other nearby, more similar sized, school districts. For example, on the English language arts assessment, Sidney had an average of 71.22 percent score at or above proficient; Troy had 68.67 percent and Piqua had 60.88 percent.
On the science assessment, Sidney had an average of 71.13 percent score at or above proficient; Troy had 74.06 percent and Piqua had 59.57 percent.
Scheu said the district is certainly improving, but still has work to do.
“We more than doubled the indicators met in previous years,” he said. “A lot of credit has to go to our Curriculum Director Brooke Gessler. She has worked with teachers and students on strategies to improve. We definitely have things in place to do better in years to come.”
Fairlawn Local Schools appeared to do the poorest on average compared to the other area districts on all assessments except social studies. While Russia appeared to do the best on average in language arts and social studies.
Compared to performance level recommendations from The Ohio Department of Education, every school district in Shelby County performed above on the science assessments; While Fairlawn was below performance level recommendations for every language arts assessment except grade nine. In social studies they were below in grade six, and in math they were below in grades four to seven.
Jackson Center was below performance level recommendations for math in grades four, five, seven and eight. In language arts they were below in grades five and seven.
Hardin-Houston was below performance level recommendations for math in grade three, language arts in grades 5,7,8 and 9, and on the high school American History Assessment.
Sidney was below performance level recommendations for math in grades four to seven, algebra 1 and geometry. They were also below in language arts in grade eight and on high school American Government and history.
Due to delays in the releasing of this data, Ohio won’t have state report cards for schools and districts until Feb. 25, 2016. Scores from both PARCC and AIR tests are combined for each student and for Ohio’s state report cards.
Other county superintendents were contacted for comment on test results but didn’t respond by press time.
All data provided in this story can be found at http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Testing/Testing-Results/Results-for-Ohios-State-Tests. Some data was averaged together to better understand. Reach this writer at 937-538-4825; follow the Sidney Daily News on Facebook and Twitter @sidneydailynews.