Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Providing Students Safe Harbor from the PARCC Test

Guest Column from State Representative Jim Buchy

This week the children in our community are beginning the most recent round of new high stakes testing. As parents and grand parents we want to know that the students in our local schools will not be harmed by the new testing program that is surrounded by controversy.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a group of states partnered together to develop a set of common assessments for students. The testing consortia used to consist of several states but because of the failure of the practice test and other reasons many states have discontinued the test after one year of trials.

In Ohio we are going through with the second year of the test but legislators have taken several steps to ensure districts, teachers and students have safe harbor from any negative effects that could come along with a bad performance on the test.

We have heard from teachers, parents and administrators who say attitudes in Ohio schools are declining because of the untested, unproven PARCC assessments that are being put into practice this week. For that reason I am carrying House Bill 7, which will extend safe harbor to students in Ohio schools. House Bill 7 is the short term fix to a long term problem. It will ensure the students are able to take the test without risking their futures. This is why the bill received unanimous support from my colleagues in the House.

The plan starts with giving children safe harbor from the PARCC standards. HB 7 bans scores from this first year of new state tests from being used against students in any way.

During the last General Assembly, House Bill 487 included safe harbor for teachers and school districts, protecting them from the negative impacts associated with PARCC testing. This bill was signed into law by Governor Kasich in 2014. I believe that the children were overlooked in this legislation, and that they are about to take a test that includes content that requires further instruction. We need to step in and act quickly to protect our children with safe harbor.

Granting our students safe harbor will simply ensure that they will not be impacted negatively by poor test scores from the PARCC test. We can ensure that the PARCC test score for this school year cannot be used for a student’s school credit or promotion under any circumstances.

This is just a start on what needs to happen to rid Ohio of the Common Core Standards, but given the fact that we are already in a situation where some children have taken the PARCC test, we need to act now. Moving the safe harbor bill quickly through the legislative process to extend protections to our children that our teachers and administrators already have is just the right thing to do.

With the bill having passed the House, it now moves to the Senate for evaluation. As always, I would appreciate hearing your feedback on this and any other issues in the state legislature.

Please provide your opinion on this issue and others in the news this month by completing a survey at tinyurl.com/buchyfebruary2015

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