Teachers fear AIR tests could be testing wrong skills

Some educators worry that too much time is spent prepping students for technology rather than lessons learned

COLUMBIANA , Ohio (WYTV) – With spring testing beginning in school districts across Ohio, some educators worry that too much time is spent prepping students for technology rather than lessons learned.

Schools across Ohio are administering the computer-based AIR (American Institutes for Research) assessment tests to students.

Last year, not every school was mandated to conduct the tests, which replaced the PARCC exams, because of technological deficiencies in some districts such as poor broad band service and equipment shortage. Those schools were allowed to administer the test on paper. However this year, every school will participate electronically.

Marie Williams with the Columbiana County Educational Service Center said schools have had a year to prepare for the exams, but there is still concern from teachers, especially from elementary schools, that students don’t have the typing skills to take the tests effectively.

“There has been a lot of talk about do we need to start having computer keyboarding classes in the lower grades? Do we need computer teachers for the lower (younger) students,” Williams said.

Every school had to undergo an audit to make sure they were ready for the tests as far as equipment, wifi service, and facilities to administer the tests, and teachers had to make sure students could navigate a computer keyboard well enough to take the tests. All that preparation leaves some educators wondering what students ultimately get out of the new assessments.

“There has been a lot of talk about are we preparing the students for actual assessment or are we preparing them for technology tools to use for the assessment. So that’s been occurring a lot,” Williams said.

Williams added that many students are used to using tablets, which incorporates touch rather than keystrokes and that can be a difficult adjustment.

She says overall it has been a long process for districts to get everything in place for the AIR tests, especially without extra funding from the state.