Across all grades, Ohio students will spend an additional 49 hours a year taking standardized tests starting in 2014-15.
But the Ohio Department of Education says the way the tests will be administered will actually be less disruptive than the state’s current testing system.
“Even though there may be more hours of testing, we think it can be done in such a way as not to interrupt the educational flow of the school,” says Jim Wright, director of the Office of Assessment at the Ohio Department of Education.
The new tests are part of Ohio’s shift to the Common Core, a new set of standards for what students should know and be able to do in English and math. Ohio is one of 45 states to fully adopt the Common Core.
The new tests are being developed by a consortium of 22 states, including Ohio, called PARCC. They’ll be given online and will replace Ohio’s current paper-and-pencil standardized tests.
Today, PARCC released additional information about the tests and the technology necessary for schools to give them.
Breaking down the additional testing time by grade level, it comes to another 30 minutes of test-taking for third graders, and another four to six hours more for students in most other tested grades.
PARCC and state officials say the tests will require students to do more writing, rather than just picking multiple-choice answers, and will do a better job of showing how much students really know.
“There will be additional testing, but we are testing the Common Core which is at a more rigorous level,” Wright says.
The new tests will have two parts: One part will be given when students are about three-quarters of the way through the school year. One part will be given closer to the end of the school year. The tests will be given in nine sessions during the course of the year.
Students will be tested in grades 3-11 in English. In math, students will be tested in grades 3-8 and in key high school math courses–Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II or their equivalents.
Schools will have up to 20 days to get all students tested.
The tests are supposed to be given entirely online, on desktop computers, laptops or tablets.
Schools will need at least one computer or tablet for every two students in the largest grade tested–and more in some cases. But PARCC recommends they have more.
Ohio Department of Education officials say they don’t know exactly how many schools currently have enough computers — or enough Internet access — to administer the new tests. But they say they know it will be a challenge for some districts.
Schools without the necessary technology will likely be allowed to give the tests on paper at first, Wright says.
Wright says he hopes the new information released today will help schools better judge how prepared they are to start giving these new tests, and will help the state learn more about how ready schools are.
“We would welcome them sharing their concerns,” he says.