State-required testing for students in Ohio schools is taking more and more time from students’ school days.
Some even feel the state testing schedule is excessive.
Aaron Rex, Archbold Area School District superintendent, said in an email to this newspaper, “Will students be spending too much time on testing? Yes.”
Michelle Bagrowski, district curriculum director, provided Rex with examples.
Bagrowski told Rex each testing session for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC test, allotted an amount of time PARCC officials believe a typical student would need to complete the test.
Additional time is allotted for students who needed more.
“Most testing sessions were 50 to 70 minutes long for the typical student, then another 30 to 35 minutes if the students needed more time,” Bagrowski told Rex.
“Here is an example. Fourth grade will be taking 12 (testing) sessions next year (2014-15). A typical student will use about 12 hours for testing.
“In the past, they only had two tests, which were 2.5 hours long each, five hours total.”
The PARCC test is administered “online,” with students taking the test on a computer.
“We were able to take part in the practice online PARCC testing (last school year) in each of our buildings (elementary, middle, high school),” said Rex.
“After we worked through a couple of initial bugs, we were able to do it successfully in all three (buildings).
“We are fortunate enough to have the technology we need to do this type of test, but there may be other (school districts) who do not.
“Students also need to know how to use the computer to complete the tests. This is part of the reason we are adding elementary technology to our curriculum next year.”
Based on information provided to Rex by Bagrowksi, students in grades three through 11 are scheduled to go through 10 to 12 PARCC sessions.
“These tests are in addition to the diagnostic tests we do at the elementary, the KRAL (Kindergarten Readiness Assessment-Literacy) kindergarten readiness and assessment, alternate assessments for students with special needs, and OTELA (Ohio Test of English Language Assessment) test for students who have English as a second language,” Rex said.
In all, he said during the next school year, “there will be 40 days where we will be giving some type of test in the district.”
Rex said in a few years, the state will figure out that there is too much testing.
However, for now, “Our kids will be spending too much time taking tests and not enough time learning with their teachers,” he said.
Steve Switzer, Pettisville superintendent, has three major concerns about testing.
The most important to him?
“The effect and pressure on students, especially younger students, may be the most significant element of all,” Switzer said.
“Take the third grade guarantee. I call it the third grade threat.
“It requires students to meet a certain level in reading or be retained.
“I am sure that students will be aware of the consequences of the test and feel even more pressure to perform well.
“Despite our best efforts to the contrary, I am sure that some students will tell others, and not in an encouraging manner, ‘If you fail this class, you will flunk third grade,’ increasing the pressure and probably decreasing the ability to perform well.”
Switzer, like Rex, also made note of lost teaching time.
“The time taken away from instruction for testing is enormous and has signifi- cantly increased over previous years,” Switzer said.
“About ten years ago, Pettisville added a day, and then two, to our calendar to make up for time lost to testing.
“What happened then was nothing like what is coming now.
“Districts are hard pressed to have the infrastructure to conduct the online tests.
“The sheer number of computers required at one time, and in one location, and the need to have flawless administration where technology is concerned is rather mindboggling.”
Schools can have more than one testing site, “but with a substantial increase in personnel required to administer the tests,” Switzer said.
“While I am not fully up to date on testing theory and predictive ability, it’s my understanding that standardized tests are effective at predicting one thing: They predict how well students will do on the next test they will take.”
Rex added, “All of these tests are overwhelming, but we will do what we have to do to help our kids be successful.”– David Pugh