Lack of Technology Could Delay Common Core Implementation in Ohio

Many schools districts across the country have decided to implement Common Core Standards in 2014, but it is likely that Common Core standards implementation will be delayed in Ohio. Lawmakers are working on legislation that would push back the start of online tests so schools can address technology issues, writes Catherine Candisky of The Columbus Dispatch.

A recent state survey found that more than a third of schools are not “technology ready.” That number is expected to grow because more than half of the state’s schools have yet to submit their assessments.

“We had a windstorm a few weeks ago, and our Internet access was down for a week and a half,” said Sherri Lawrence, principal of Union Elementary School, about 65 miles northeast of Columbus in Coshocton County.

Lawrence said she supports moving to online testing, but her school has only 24 computers with a shaky Internet connection. The school uses an old building, and when all computers are in use, “it affects our phone lines,” she noted.

Beginning in the spring of 2015, new online tests are planned in grades 3-8. Schools will have a 20-day window to administer exams to help with scheduling. This would be helpful for the schools that might not have enough computers for all students to take them at the same time.

With “sporadic and unpredictable” internet connectivity, Lori Snyder-Lowe, superintendent of the Morgan Local School District, about 80 miles southeast of Columbus, asked what happens if a student is taking a test and “we lose connectivity? Do they lose concentration? Do they have to start over?”

Snyder-Lowe said they have 25 computers in each of five school buildings serving 2,200 students. And the tests will be given to groups of students at different times. Also, the district faces a problem that a majority of students live in poverty and have little experience with computers, making keyboarding, using a mouse and other aspects of online test-taking a challenge.

The new legislation recommended for passage by a House subcommittee would delay online testing until the 2015-16 school year at the earliest.

“They aren’t ready,” said Rep. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell. “This one-year delay is needed to help all schools get ready and give us time for a much more comprehensive assessment of” their technology needs, he said.

Recently, the Ohio Department of Education asked all Ohio schools — those in traditional districts and charter and private schools — to complete a readiness assessment to show their ability to use technology for both instruction and online assessments.

Of 1,063 schools and districts, about 430 have completed the assessment and about 276 indicated that they are ready for online testing, according to preliminary results provided in a recent briefing to the Ohio Board of Education.