Nearly 99% of Students Took State Tests Last School Year by the Ohio
Department of Education
my educator colleagues and I received this
communication from the Ohio Department of Education (click the word
for the link).
former school psychologist, psychometrician, Director of Student Services,
Assistant Superintendent in charge of Curriculum, Instruction
& Assessment, and current Superintendent of the Olmsted Falls School District I
felt the need to opine on this communication because a
statement was made that indicated:
"Teachers, parents, superintendents and education leaders believe that all
students should take the tests, and their communities
are better served when
achievement is measured."
elaborate on the statement above I should say a few things:
1. I am in favor of a common set of learning objectives (aka The Common
Ohio's Standards...whatever you would like to call
them). There are a variety of reasons why I am in favor of
these and I'd be happy to talk about why in a civil
manner. I know that there are some people that disagree and that's ok.
I believe that achievement must be measured in some way, shape or form and that
the report out (how it looks,
what it says, and the information contained within it)
should be based on the "user" of the assessment information.
Rick Stiggins and his colleagues taught us much and we
need to remember that "HOW" the results are communicated
should be based on the assessment user's needs.
Students, parents, teachers, principals, real estate agents, legislators, etc.
all assessment users.
I think Legislators, Governors and those outside of the field of education need
to remember that teachers assess
their students--they always have and they always will.
They did this prior to the ACCOUNTABILITY movement. They did this prior to a law
telling them to do it and they will continue to do it
in the absence of a law. We may need an accountability system,
however we don't need a law to measure achievement and
we certainly don't need a law...an amendment to the law...another amendment and
The core problem isn't (in my opinion) the fact that a test exists...the
core problem is there is a widespread belief by those "in charge" that
every single student must be tested by an assessment
developed under the guidance of government AND our legislative leaders
are making assessment decisions when they know very
little about assessment AND (stay with me) those making the decisions about
assessment aren't getting advice from those who have
read the research on the best practices of assessment for and of learning
because if they
were, the decisions that are being made wouldn't be, in
fact, being made.
Here's the reality:
Students ARE better served when achievement is measured and acted upon in
a timely manner. This happens between the student
and the teacher within the moment of instruction. This is the most personal and
powerful form of assessment. Students are not
better served when we're required to line them up and test every single one of
them. There's a better way and we need to find it.
Teachers, parents, superintendents and education leaders DO NOT believe
all students should take the tests. At least not the
ones in Olmsted Falls; nor the ones that I've had the good fortune to speak with
in the Greater Cleveland Area.
school district and some of the others in our area had a significant number of
student assessment opt outs during the last testing period. It impacted
our district so much we did not have 95% of our student population assessed;
which is a Federal Accountability Indicator. We missed that
Participation Indicator and will have one of our District Report Card Grades
dropped...this has never happened in Olmsted Falls since the
inception of the accountability system in Ohio. However I will say this...it
doesn't matter. We're choosing to not let ourselves be measured by
test scores alone. Our students are more than the system that has been set up to
measure them and the system that is currently in place is under duress.
a statement that most report card measures are not directly impacted by student
People distrust us (educators) and think that we're trying to convince parents
to opt out their struggling students so they aren't "counted"
in our district report cards. The opt out movement is a parent movement and is
being done because parents are upset with all of the testing. The opt out
movement is not a group of educators meeting in a back room plotting.
Traditionally high achievers are the ones that are opting out and the impact on
Local Report Card Scores is SIGNIFICANT. If you are in a district where
5% of your high achievers have opted out of testing it has a pervasive impact on
the information being relayed to the public that the Legislators have
decided to use to rate the school your children go to (i.e. test scores).
Whether you think testing is a bad idea or not; at least be in favor of
results to constituents that vote on issues to raise their taxes when they don't
want to raise their taxes in the first place because money is tight.
100 years from now people will read what is happening in some sort of book or
periodical and they will think it is fiction.
doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that our lowered student
participation (around 110 or so students) was a form of protest by parents
and Ohio offered little guidance to the local districts as it was occurring.
This year our school district intends to not honor opt outs when parents
present them and as the superintendent I'm being criticized. I want to be
very clear though...we are operating in this manner because we are
following the law... not because we believe all students should be tested.
is we have plenty of assessment information that is generated at the local level
to inform our community members, teachers,
principals, parents, students, superintendent, Board Members and others as to
how Olmsted Falls students are achieving. I am only 1 person, but
I am concerned as to how things are developing and what is being developed.