Answers on how state tests will be given this year in the Amherst Schools are slowly coming.
The state has officially scrapped the unpopular PARCC exams, which many complained were too intense, high-stakes, and difficult.
“We heard from teachers, administrators, and parents,” said Amherst administrator Michael Molnar, who is in charge of testing and curriculum. “Testing times were doubled and tripled in some cases. This year, the General Assembly went back and told the state to change course.”
American Institutes for Research exams will be used this year. Molnar said they are very similar to the Ohio Achievement Assessments used pre-PARCC.
Tests will only be given from April through May for the third through eighth grades. Principals will decide, based on teacher feedback, whether paper-and-pencil or online exams should be used.
Each test will be shorter and more controlled, Molnar said. Districts have the option now to give three-hour exams or split them into two 90-minute sessions, which may be better for younger children.
How much local control over state assessments will ultimately be given remains to be seen. Molnar told the Amherst board of education Monday that the Ohio legislature could change its school testing policy at any time.
“Change is inevitable. It’s not a matter of whether they change it, it’s when,” board member Ron Yacobozzi said.
Federal policy will likely also come into play.
President Barack Obama recently said American students take too many tests and teachers need to be given more time to teach.
He was quoted Monday on the White House Facebook page: “When I look back on the great teachers who shaped my life, what I remember isn’t the way they prepared me to take a standardized test. What I remember is the way they taught me to believe in myself. To be curious about the world. To take charge of my own learning so that I could reach my full potential. They inspired me to open up a window into parts of the world I’d never thought of before.”
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.