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State Budget Passed Without Common Core Requirements

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All school year, the term PARCC was a major point of contention for students, parents and teachers around the state. PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. It was the test Ohio and 11 other states used to assess what students were learning through the Common Core standards.

People complained about the two-window testing schedule that took a lot of time away from instruction as well as technical glitches along the way.

The House added language in the budget to do away with PARCC and for the state to find a new assessment, fast.

Republican Senator Peggy Lehner of Kettering chaired a testing advisory committee that filed a long list of recommendations to overhaul PARCC, which included the urge for shorter tests.

“Once PARCC refused to shorten the test to a point that it was acceptable to the testing group I felt that it was very likely that we would end up dropping PARCC altogether,” Lehner said.

And that’s what happened—the newly signed state budget stopped funding for the PARCC tests. Now the Ohio Department of Education Superintendent Dick Ross says the state is quickly moving forward by committing to assessments created by the American Institutes for Research, or AIR.

“It’s not going to be an over-the-shelf test. This is going to be something—we’re gonna have Ohio teachers to develop this assessment in English/language arts and mathematics,” Ross said.

Forty-three states have adopted the Common Core education standards. Other than the 12 that used PARCC to assess those standards, 18 were part of what’s known as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Ohio is joining the rest of those states that created their own tests.

Three of those states – Arizona, Florida and Utah – also worked with AIR for assessments.

Jennifer Hogue with the Ohio Association of School Boards says scrapping PARCC creates a lot of confusion.

“You know we’re getting ready to start another school year here in a few more weeks and so not knowing what that testing instrument’s going to be and how to prepare students to make sure they have their needs met it’s very concerning,” Hogue said.

Hogue says state education leaders will have to work fast in order to bring everyone around Ohio up to speed in time. The state only used PARCC for one year before getting rid of it. Hogue hopes that the next assessment will be a more long-term solution.

“It seems like a lot has been one-and-done in this era of constant reform but it would be very nice to be able to pick a good solid assessment that everyone can be comfortable with so we can just move forward and be done,” Hogue said.

Lehner agrees with the mindset of sticking with the next assessment longer.

“Well we’re gonna all have to develop a little patience because it’s just not fair for our schools to be changing this on an annual basis,” Lehner said.

While she admits there will never be an assessment that satisfies everyone, Lehner says there’s already a benefit to using AIR.

“We have the advantage of having used it for social studies and science in this past school year. So they are familiar with that test and its format and structure. And it would also put all of our tests on the same platform,” Lehner said.

The state’s largest teachers union, the Ohio Education Association, declined to comment on the change until they found out more details from the state education department.

A big issue with PARCC was that teachers wouldn’t find out the test results until November or December. Ross says results from the new AIR tests will be delivered to teachers by June 30th of each school year.

No word yet on how much this transition will cost the state.