State exam mandate is testing Perrysburg
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer
Monday, 25 November 2013 10:48
PERRYSBURG - New assessments will change the way students take state tests as well as how those who teach them are evaluated.
Superintendent Tom Hosler presented information on the new tests and how they'll affect teachers under a new evaluation model during a school board meeting last week.
Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests are to replace the Ohio Achievement Assessments and Ohio Graduation Test in math and language arts for students in grades four through eight. The Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, new this year, requires that instructors be evaluated yearly under an even split of performance evaluations and measured student growth as shown on the tests and other performance indicators.
Fifty percent of a teacher's evaluation will be calculated by student progress during the year as measured by the new tests. Teachers of those subjects will be measured based on the test results, while those who instruct in other areas will be subject to Student Learning Objectives currently being compiled by teachers, building leaders and administrators.
Many teachers are uneasy about how they'll be scored under the new evaluations, and Hosler said the PARCC tests represent a "major shift" and will create new challenges for students.
The tests will require students to think critically, rather than fill-in a multiple-choice guess if they don't know an answer. Questions will require more work to arrive at a conclusion by asking students to select quotes from a passage that support a central idea, for example. The tests will also be given via computer rather than pencil and paper, and additional testing time will keep students from the classroom for longer, which could distract them from preparing for their own exams.
PARCC tests represent such a dramatic change that they are expected to significantly affect passage rates in the district and others across the state. Hosler said that figure is typically between 90 and 100 percent in Perrysburg, but may fall to between 60 and 70 percent with the new tests.
Board president Gretchen Downs said she was initially overwhelmed at an Ohio School Board Association workshop on the tests. But while those from other districts lamented the challenges they face under the changes, she said she became more convinced that Perrysburg had already made substantial progress by expanding Internet bandwidth and starting a technology program to assign individual computers to students.
"We are so much further ahead in so many ways," Downs said.
But being a step ahead of other districts on the test isn't enough to keep Perrysburg from supporting Senate Bill 229, sponsored by State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), which would lessen PARCC's impact on teacher evaluations from 50 to as low as 35 percent, at the discretion of each school district.
Hosler testified in Columbus Tuesday in support of the bill, which would also reduce the frequency of assessments for those instructors who achieve top ratings.
Before the testing discussion, he first hour of Monday's meeting was used to recognize accomplishments of students, staff and community members, including the girls' golf and cross country teams which qualified for state tournaments this season.
Doug Kollman of Ft. Meigs Elementary School was presented with an award from an American Heart Association representative honoring the school's first-place designation in Ohio for $13,971 raised through the combination of Jump Rope and Hoops for Heart in 2012-2013. Since 2003, the school has raised more than $100,000 through the events.
The Youth Jefferson Award for the first quarter was presented to Val Kopp and Niara Williams.
Lastly, Hosler recognized Mayor Nelson Evans and Perrysburg Municipal Court Judge S. Dwight Osterud, both departing their positions, for their community service.
"They're really fixtures, not only in our community, but in our schools," Hosler said.
The board accepted donations from Ford Cauffiel, $5,000, for the Students for Other Students peer-tutoring program; and $776 from Rick Ruffner for a car cruise-in, bringing the year's total school contributions from the events to $2,652.