Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.52.19 AMParents speak out against excessive amounts of standardized testing

By Molly Quinn, ’15

A large portion of third quarter seemed like an endless cycle of bubbling answers in an answer document on standardized test after standardized test. Between the PARCC and OGT tests alone, UAHS lost a total of 26.5 hours of classroom time, which has not gone unnoticed by parents across Upper Arlington and throughout Ohio.

This increase has caused an uproar against standardized testing and the Common Core, both in Ohio and nationally, as growing numbers of groups and websites urge parents to ‘opt their children out’  of taking state assessments entirely.

Locally, groups like Ohioans Against Common Core and Say No to Common Core have popped up in opposition to the new PARCC tests, calling upon parents to withdraw their children from the Spring 2015 PARCC tests, as the groups claim it will not affect their child’s grade or ability to graduate.

According to Say No to Common Core, Ohio state law requires schools to administer these tests, but there isn’t a state law that requires parents to have their students take them.

Despite the growing belief that parents can withdraw their children from standardized testing, John Charlton, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), clarifies that Ohio does not have an authorized ‘opt-out’ form for parents to fill out when removing children from tests.

“Federal and state law requires students to be tested and schools must administer the tests,” Charlton said. “In Ohio, there is no law, procedure or form that officially allows parents to opt their students out of standardized tests, but if they do inform the district that they will withdraw their student from testing there can be consequences for the student and school.”

Counselor Liz Hughes states that UAHS honors the choice of parents.

“While the Upper Arlington school district has had a long tradition of respecting parental decisions about state testing, the ODE advised that there could be negative consequences for certain students who do not take the assessments,” Hughes said.

According to the ODE, students in Ohio must either accumulate 18 required graduation points on the seven end of year PARCC tests, show college readiness by scoring high on national tests or acquire an industry certification and a work-readiness score on WorkKeys in order to obtain a high school diploma.

“Opting out of tests can prevent a student from graduating,” Charlton said. “Currently, students are still required to have passed all five parts of the OGT to obtain a diploma, and ninth graders who do not accumulate the 18 required graduation points will not be able to graduate.”

Opting out of standardized testing can also reflect negatively on a school’s report card grade which are designed to show parents, taxpayers and school administrators how well students are performing. The report card scores also allow for direct comparisons between schools and help to identify schools and districts that require additional support.

Charlton clarifies that opting out can also affect financing.

“If participation on these standardized tests drops below 95 percent in any school district, or in a subgroup of students in a school district, there could be possible cuts in federal funding,” Charlton said.

Hughes believes the amount of time spent testing is concerning.

“We all know there needs to be some way to show mastery of content standards, however I think the amount of days of testing have had a huge impact on learning at UAHS,” Hughes said. “Remember tests are just snapshots of a student as well.”

Hughes adds that there are better ways to show improvement than through tests.

“We, as educators, want to prepare students for a successful life. Someone might be an awesome test taker but not really prepared for life after high school, whereas someone we know will do well in anything in life might be a bad test taker,” Hughes said. “There are lots of parts of this new PARCC testing that we hope are looked at this year by legislators and changed for the better for our students.”