YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Are fourth graders around the country doing worse in math and reading than they were just two years ago? The answer is yes, according to scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) that creates the “nation’s report card.”
Locally, some say the problem may lie with a lack of consistency in school proficiency exams. Erin Pierce, curriculum director with Howland Local Schools, said students are at a disadvantage every time a new test evolves.
“In the beginning, we don’t know exactly what is going to be assessed,” Pierce said.
The NAEP scores show declines for both fourth and eighth graders across the country, something Howland Superintendent Kevin Spicher said he has trouble believing.
“We have strategies in place. We have worked on our data. We have worked to make sure that we understand varying levels of student learning. Unfortunately, we are compelled to accountability like we have never held to before,” Spicher said.
One change coming to Ohio will be the elimination of student testing through what’s called the “Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).” Instead, students will take tests offered by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) on all subjects.
Mahoning County Educational Services Director Kim Davis said new testing is always a challenge for school districts.
“When standards change and tests change, it is going to take some time for kids, teachers and districts to catch up to that,” she said.
Davis and her staff help nearly two dozen districts in four counties keep up with the latest programs. She said there is always room for improvement, and even excellent schools need to keep raising the bar.
“If we believe that we can keep teaching the way that we’ve been teaching, we are going to struggle and our kids are going to struggle,” Davis said.