Ohio has become the latest state to abandon its multi-state, Common Core-aligned standardized test following widespread complaints about technical glitches and feared federal involvement.
The move came Tuesday, when Gov. John Kasich signed a new budget that prohibits any money from being spent on tests produced by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a consortium of several states creating shared test questions aligned with Common Core’s math and English standards.
Ohio spent over $25 million in the past year on PARCC’s tests, but still ran into a host of problems. The tests, which were supposed to be administered primarily via computer, experienced a significant number of technical glitches that angered both parents and teachers. A survey of teachers and administrators conducted by an Ohio legislator found that most were unhappy with the tests’ rollout. (RELATED: Common Core Tests Barraged By Glitches, Boycotts)
Ohio will have to find a new test provider quickly. The federal No Child Left Behind law requires states to administer tests in grades 3-8 as well as once in high school, and Ohio could lose about $750 million in federal funding if it fails to test students next year.
The move comes even though Kasich, who is expected to officially announce a presidential run in three weeks, has remained a supporter of Common Core. As other Republicans have rejected the standards, including every major presidential candidate save Jeb Bush, Kasich has stuck to his guns, calling the surge in opposition a “runaway Internet campaign” grounded on an irrational fear that President Barack Obama is behind the standards. Although Kasich possess a line-item veto, and used it on several dozen parts of the budget, he acquiesced to PARCC’s elimination. (RELATED: Kasich Says Fellow Republicans Are Lying About Common Core)
The new law only changes what test Ohio will use, without altering Common Core in any way. However, shared standardized tests were touted as a major advantage of Common Core in its early days, since they would allow achievement levels to be compared across state lines like never before. Technical problems have combined with a fear of federal control (PARCC has received money from the Obama administration), though, to turn this former advantage into a millstone around Common Core’s neck.
As a result, dumping tests while keeping Common Core has been a frequent compromise in the 2015 Common Core debate. Mississippi’s state school board voted to ditch PARCC in January, and Arizona did the same in May. Missouri abolished the similar Smarter Balanced multi-state test two weeks ago. In Colorado, legislatures reduced the volume of its PARCC tests rather than eliminating them entirely. PARCC, which launched in 2010 with 23 members, is down to only nine for the 2015 school year, and that could become eight soon, as Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson is trying to pull his state out as well.
PARCC spokesman David Connerty-Marin told The Plain Dealer that Ohio’s departure was a “disappointment,” but he praised it for sticking with the Core.
“No one would have imagined just five or six years ago that the Governors of 45 states, governors from both political parties, would come together to develop a new set of standards to better prepare students for success in college and careers,” he said.