With standardized testing, devil is in the details
To the Editor:
Ohio's new education mandate on K-12, the Common Core state standards and nationally standardized assessments, is traced to then-Gov. Ted Strickland signing both House Bill 1 (2009) and the Ohio Department of Education's Race to the Top application (2010) to get federal funds.
Twelve states now are reconsidering participation or withdrawing. Four additional states never joined.
Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, all students must take end-of-course tests developed by Washington-based PARCC. The state education department will mandate tests, which will be administered on computers and count for as much as 30 percent of final grades. That's enough that well-educated A-B students with test anxiety could receive C's or D's on their high school transcripts.
The tests have never been tried. There is no phase-in period. There is no revealed plan for retakes, for recourse to question a grade or for review of what specifically was missed. Some material and teaching methods are new to current teachers, making risks even higher. All sophomores must take college-readiness tests of some sort. The scope of the allowable questions is not specified.
There is no opt-out component. Cost is unknown.
Test and other data will follow the student. The Race to the Top application touts tracking from preschool through college and beyond. Children supposedly will be protected by federal privacy laws, but the U.S. Department of Education developed its own definition of privacy-laws terminology, apart from Congress. It seems access could be given to any one whom they choose.
H.B. 1 "requires the state board ... at least once every five years ... adopt new statewide academic standards for all grades."
This could mean new material, models, tests, more tax money and, most crucially, disruption to the education of students as schools scramble to comply.
Get engaged. Ohio and Ohio's children do not need this and will be better off without it.