Interpreting the results of last year's PARCC tests could prove "problematic" for most districts, Worthington Chief Academic Officer Jennifer Wene said.

Interpreting the results of last year's PARCC tests could prove "problematic" for most districts, Worthington Chief Academic Officer Jennifer Wene said.

The state recently released preliminary results of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests, but those results were impacted by student opt-outs.

"We had over 350 students opt out of the testing, so the scores are not a reflection of our total student body," Wene said. "We also had over 250 students take only one section of the test. Those students' scores were reported in the database with most of them being a 1 or 2. That has distorted the picture."

Students could score from 1-5 on the tests, with a score of 3 considered proficient. Wene said students who opted out of the tests were counted as scoring 0.

According to the results reported on the Ohio Department of Education website, the percentage of Worthington students who scored proficient in Grade 9 English was 81.6 percent; 65.9 percent for Grade 8 math; 72.1 percent for Grade 8 science; and 71.9 percent for Grade 6 social studies.

The scores for all grades who took the tests can be found at the ODE website.

Superintendent Trent Bowers explained the test results to parents in his latest blog post. He said the testing format made it difficult to compare the scores to results from previous years or other districts.

"Some districts gave some paper-and-pencil tests and some computer tests," he wrote in the blog. "A few districts, like Worthington, went 'all-in' and gave all tests on the computer.

"Many wonder whether taking tests on the computer will increase or decrease a student's success," he wrote. "For now, the question is unanswered."

Wene said the tests also were over new state standards that had been in place one to three years.

"Our teachers and our students are still making the transition in the curriculum," she said.

The PARCC tests were not popular with parents, mostly because 20 successive days had to be set aside in the spring to administer the tests. Districts had to allow for longer testing periods for the performance-based PARCC tests, because they required essay-type answers, unlike the answers required on multiple-choice tests from previous years. That unpopularity caused many parents to sign opt-out forms to keep children from taking the tests.

The PARCC tests will not be administered this school year, after an Ohio Senate Advisory Committee studied state testing options and recommended improvements and a smaller testing window.

Wene said the PARCC scores would not be ignored but would not be the sole data used to set instructional priorities.

The district uses local assessments tests such as Measures of Academic Progress and teacher analysis to measure student academic growth.

"This year teachers are working in teams of three to five to look closely at student work, design instructional support and analyze the results of that work on student achievement," she said.

Wene said she believes in standards aligned testing, but being "college and career ready" requires skills that go "way beyond" the content level expected by the state tests.

"Our wish would be for a better balance in the amount of state testing, some degree of local control and removal of sanctions associated with the tests such as the Third Grade Guarantee, graduation requirements and linkage to teacher evaluation," she said.

Bowers said Worthington educators strive to teach creative problem-solving and "a process for continual learning, persevering when things get hard and the ability to think and act creatively."

"This is the balance of public education in 2015," he wrote to parents in the blog. "We're actively working to help our students learn the academic content knowledge measured on state tests, but more importantly, we're working to help our students apply what they've learned and develop the skills necessary for success in the 21st century."