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The testing controversy: Where AAUW stands

2015 June 15

By Karen Rainey
AAUW of Ohio Public Policy Chair

Right up there with the continuing to-do around Common Core is the controversy over the testing that accompanies its implementation. Parents, teachers and administrators have all protested the amount of time spent on the new PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) testing.

Karen Rainey

Karen Rainey

Driving the expanded time taken up by testing are new teacher evaluation standards, which rely on the achievement tests to partially measure teacher effectiveness, as well as the greater difficulty of the tests themselves. At stake is $750 million in annual federal education funding tied to testing.

The Ohio General Assembly has taken note and proposed several actions. First among these, the House version of the biennial budget, HB 64, specifically cuts out all funding for PARCC tests ($33 million), leaving the state without funds for federally required testing. Also passing the House by a vote of 92-1 is HB 74, which eliminates PARCC tests in Ohio and limits state achievement tests to three hours per test per year.

Advisory committee recommendations

The Senate is still considering the budget and has not yet acted on HB 74. Concerns with testing, however, led to the creation of a Senate advisory committee made up of legislators and educators from around the state, which reported its recommendations in late April. The committee, headed by Sen. Peggy Lehner, chair of the Senate Education Committee, listed as its top recommendations:

  • Testing should be scaled back to once a year and the tests should be shortened.
  • Accommodations for children with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) must be improved.
  • Test results must be returned in a timely manner to benefit student instruction.
  • Test questions and answers must be available shortly after the tests are given to ensure they are aligned with Ohio’s learning standards and are developmentally appropriate.
  • Schools must plan to move toward on-line testing and state funding for technology upgrades should be considered.
  • A single technology platform is preferable for next year’s tests; improvements are needed to ensure smooth administration.
  • A “safe harbor” must be in place that does not penalize students, teachers or schools for the results of this year’s tests. (Note: House Bill 7 has been enacted that provides a safe harbor for students.)
  • A comprehensive communications plan must be developed to provide all parties with clearer information about the tests.

Why is AAUW concerned about tests?

AAUW believes, along with other national civil and human rights groups, that data obtained through some standardized tests are important because they are the only available, consistent, and objective source of data about disparities in educational outcomes. These data are used to advocate for greater resource equity in schools and more fair treatment for subgroups, including students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners.

In response to the backlash against PARCC, AAUW makes the following points:

  • PARCC tests will help ensure all students, regardless of income or family background, have equal access to a world-class education to prepare them for success in college and careers.
  • PARCC tests serve students of all achievement levels – advanced, average, and struggling – by identifying where they have areas of need as well as where they are excelling.
  • These tests not only evaluate a student’s progress, but show teachers and parents exactly where a student needs help so they are able to personalize instruction to meet individual student needs.
  • The PARCC tests serve as an “educational GPS system” for parents and teachers to assess where a student is and to help find the best route to get them ready for the next academic material and for success beyond high school. PARCC assessments let parents and educators know if students are prepared for college and careers.

The PARCC board has heard the criticisms and moved to shorten the tests by 90 minutes next year. The board also agreed to administer the tests not twice but only once during the school year, close to the end of the year. Test sections will also be more uniform in length.

It is hoped that the board’s responsiveness to complaints will allow PARCC to continue to provide Ohio’s tests. Recently, information has come out that Ohio’s students do worse on national assessments than on state testing, implying that state tests have been less challenging and more rigor, as with the PARCC tests, is needed.

Also in the works is a bill introduced in the US Senate by Ohio’s Sen. Sherrod Brown. Titled the SMART Act (Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely), it would help to streamline and improve testing. It would allow states to eliminate tests that are unnecessary and redundant, and increase the amount of support states and school districts receive to help them align testing materials to college and career-ready standards. The proposed act has been endorsed by the Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

What you can do

So what can you do? Ask your legislators to support fixing, rather than scrapping, the PARCC tests. Use AAUW’s Quick Facts on Common Core Standards as a resource, and use the talking points listed above in your conversation. If you want to sample a PARCC test, go to Find your legislator at, and Let me know what the response is at

New resources online: Spring Orbit, Policy Book, Public Policy Resources for Branch Programming

2015 June 12
  • AAUW Ohio Orbit, Spring 2015 issue, with news of Leadership Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 3.03.33 PMWorkshop 2015
  • Public Policy Resources for Branch Programming 2015-16
  • Legislative Update: Ohio General Assembly, May 2015
  • AAUW Ohio Board of Directors Policy BookThis book is designed to describe duties and responsibilities of officers, chairs, and members of committees; clarify state/branch relationships to prevent inconsistency and improve administration efficiency.
  • Policy Book for Branches: The excerpted section of the new AAUW Ohio Policy Book just for branches
  • Finance Officers’ Presentation from Convention: Several branch finance officers asked that the counterparts presentation be posted online.  The slides are available here in PDF format on the HHL website. You can also find the page from the Programs and Events menu dropdown titled “AAUW Ohio Speaks to Heights-Hillcrest-Lyndhurst.” At convention, the presenters outlined several methods to pay dues to national and Ohio, including by paper or online, and demonstrated the Member Services Database and the Membership Payment Program.  National staff members Tremayne Parquet and Jennifer Barton were there and fielded questions. Use the posted slides for review or to look ahead to another presentation planned for the August Leadership Conference.  The final slide shows contact information for presenters Patricia Williams, Melissa Marino, Christine Siebeneck, and Nancy Stellhorn.

AAUW of Ohio Leadership Workshop 2015

2015 May 6

Date: Saturday, Aug. 8OH_AAUW_lowres
Times: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: Roush Hall at Otterbein University, 1 South Grove St., Westerville, OH 43081
Cost: $30 per person
Theme: Branch Counterpart Focus Day with special sessions for branch leaders — presidents and vice presidents of programming, finance, public policy and membership.

Registration: To register or for more information, email Kaylee Pavel, AAUW Ohio administrator, at

Photo highlights from AAUW Equity Day & Convention 2015

2015 May 3

For more photos of AAUW Ohio Equity Day & Convention 2015, visit our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.


BGSU student Brianna Collins, who won this year’s AAUW of Ohio scholarship to attend NCWSL, with President Christine Siebeneck at the May 3 Awards Banquet.

Tremaine Parquet, Gillian Holzauzer-Graber, AAUW President Patricia Fae Ho and Susan Williams celebrate completion of the Ohio Century Fund, a $100,000 philanthropic effort

Tremaine Parquet, AAUW senior manager of individual giving; Gillian Holzauzer-Graber, AAUW Ohio vice-president of philanthropy; AAUW President Patricia Fae Ho and Susan Williams, Findley Branch member, celebrate completion of the Ohio Century Fund, a $100,000 philanthropic effort by AAUW of Ohio.

Branch members wave their star wands after receiving their awards certificates at the May 2 banquet.

Branch members wave their star wands after receiving their awards certificates at the May 2 banquet.




Jo Dye, Marilyn Kornowski, JoAnn Benseler and Christine Siebeneck are on a roll at AAUW Ohio Equity Day and Convention 2015.

Jo Dye, Marilyn Kornowski, JoAnn Benseler and Christine Siebeneck are on a roll at AAUW Ohio Equity Day and Convention 2015.

We are at AAUW Ohio Equity Day & Convention 2015

2015 May 2

Join us for our two-day event in Dublin, Ohio. And follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with what’s happening.

Tech Savvy at Stark State attracts 100+

2015 April 30

The Tech Savvy Conference held at Stark State College on April 25 in conjunction withTech-Savvy-Logo the Alcoa Foundation attracted more than 100 girls.

Tech Savvy is a daylong science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career conference, by AAUW, designed to attract girls in sixth through ninth grade to these fields and to inform families about STEM education and careers.

Download full program for AAUW of Ohio Equity Day & Convention May 1-3

2015 April 26

If you haven’t already done so, register today for AAUW Ohio Equity Day & Convention 2015, May 1-3 at Embassy Suites Hotel, 5100 Upper Metro Place, Dublin, Ohio, just off I-270.Convention 2015 logo

Then download the full program for the two-day event, which is hosted by Central District Branches of AAUW Ohio. And if you are tweeting about the weekend’s events, please use the hashtag #aauwohconv15.

Here are some of the events on the schedule:

Friday, May 1, 2015: 5:30 – 10 p.m.

5:30 – 7:30 p.m. – Early Registration, Conference Room 3 and Cocktails and Convos in the Atrium: Dress from the year of your branch’s charter.

6:30 – 8 p.m. – Executive Board Dinner & Meeting, Conference Room 3

8:00 – 10 p.m. Convention Book Discussion, Conference Room 4: Overwhelmed Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte. Holly Norton, facilitator, AAUW Ohio

Saturday, May 2, 2015: 8 a.m – 4:15 p.m., plus evening events beginning at 5:30 p.m.

8-11 a.m. – Registration, Salon 3/4

9:15 a.m. – Welcome, Salon 3/4

5:30-6:30 p.m. – Social Hour and Silent Auction, Atrium

6:30-7:30 p.m. – Awards Banquet, Salon 3/4

9:30 p.m. – President’s Reception, President’s Suite

Download the full program.

Sunday, May 3, 2015: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

8-11 a.m. – Registration and Credentialing, Salon 3/4

9 a.m. – Opening Session, Salon 3/4

3 p.m. – Adjournment

Download the full program.

Links to more:

#ESEA updates from D.C.

2015 April 23
by admin

AAUW Ohio president in DC to support #ESEA reauthorization

2015 April 23
by Paula Maggio

AAUW of Ohio President Christine Siebeneck is in Washington, D.C. today to meet with staffers for state senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman to advocate for a strong ESEA reauthorization, a move that is supported by AAUW.

We’ll be using our social media accounts to report on her day, so follow on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow Christine @aauwchristine.

Here’s the tweet she posted this morning:

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) was originally passed as part of the Lyndon B. Johnson administration’s War on Poverty campaign. According to the Educationpost website, its original goal and its goal today is “to improve educational equity for students from lower-income families by providing federal funds to school districts serving poor students.”

AAUW of Ohio Statehouse update

2015 April 20
by admin
From:  Karen Rainey, AAUW Ohio Public Policy Chair
Re:  Update and Current Events
Date:  April 15, 2015Greetings!  I want to bring you up to date on what’s happening at the Statehouse, encourage branch participation in advocacy, and urge your attendance at the public policy sessions at convention on May 3.  Please share this information with your branch members.

Here’s the legislation we’re following:

House Bill 2, the charter school reform bill, which deals primarily with sponsorship.  This bill passed the House by a vote of 70-25 on March 26, and will have sponsor (Reps. Roegner and Dovilla) testimony in the Senate Finance- Education subcommittee on April 15.  It is also expected that Sen. Peggy Lehner, chair of the Senate Education Committee, will introduce her own charter reform bill soon., Ohio has been the poster child for bad charter school law, and HB 2 is a step toward more accountability and transparency, although it’s not as strong as advocates for reform would like.  Sen. Lehner’s bill is expected to follow the recommendations of Auditor Dave Yost for increasing accountability.  It’s likely the two bills will eventually have to be reconciled.  AAUW advocate Jennifer Dillard testified on HB 2 and AAUW also signed on to the Coalition for Public Education testimony—both can be read on our web site.  Charter schools have received significant state financial support, and the governor’s budget proposal would add nearly $1 billion for the next biennium.

Plan to attend the public policy breakout session on Sunday, May 3, to hear Steve Dyer, Innovation Ohio’s Education Policy Fellow and former state representative, give an update on charter school reform.

House Joint Resolution 2, sponsored by Reps. Clyde and Curtin, would align with HJR 12, the state redistricting constitutional amendment, to change how the lines are drawn for congressional redistricting.  As it is now, only state redistricting reform will be on the ballot this November.

Plan to attend the public policy breakout session on Sunday, May 3, to hear Ann Henkener, Vice President of the League of Women Voters of Ohio and its redistricting expert, speak about how the proposed amendment would work and the importance of your November vote on this constitutional amendment. 

House Bill 69, the so-called “heartbeat bill,” passed the House by a vote of 55-40.  This bill, back again after the Senate ignored it in last year’s lame duck session, would ban all abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detected, with no exceptions for rape, incest, severe mental illness or fetal abnormalities.  Rep. Teresa Fedor, whom we know best as the champion of human trafficking legislation, made an impassioned speech on the House floor in opposition to the bill, telling for the first time her own story of rape and abortion while she was in the military.  Rep. Fedor will be the keynote speaker on April 22 for the Freedom of Choice Ohio (FOCO) Advocacy Day .  The Senate Health Committee will hear sponsor testimony on the bill April 15, but it’s not clear if there will be more hearings.  We need to be vigilant and let our representatives know of our concerns.  AAUW testimony on this bill is also on the web site.   Another House bill, HB 117, would ban all abortions after 20 weeks but has not yet been scheduled for hearings.

Plan to attend the Freedom of Choice Ohio (FOCO) Advocacy Day next Wednesday, April 22, to learn more about the several bills that affect reproductive health.  AAUW Ohio is a member of FOCO and a sponsor of the event.  Register now at  If you are new to lobbying, you will have the opportunity to visit legislators as a part of a group, following a training session.

House Bill 64, the biennial budget bill proposed by the governor, contained a number of provisions that the House saw as problematical.  The House introduced its version April 14 and we will be monitoring several provisions.  Among the items in its 3,000 pages, Sub HB 64 does the following:

  • It leaves Medicaid expansion as a part of the budget bill.  There had been concern that it would be stripped out and made a separate bill, primarily so certain House members could be on record as voting against it.
  • It increases spending for schools by $179 million and ensures that no district receives less than it did in the foundation formula in FY 15.  The governor’s formula had left many local school superintendents scratching their heads.
  • It creates a Joint Education Oversight Committee that will examine school funding and other issues, so that work on these issues continues after the budget is enacted.
  • It increases funding for rape crisis centers by $500,000 per year.  These have been shown to provide erroneous information to clients.  At the same time, coverage for pregnant low-income women is cut.

In addition, we’re looking for funding to be added to the budget to finance the mailing of absentee ballot applications to every voter in Ohio, which can only be done if the Secretary of State receives the funding to do so.  AAUW Ohio is now a part of the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition to address this and other voting issues.

House Bill 74, relating to primary and secondary school testing, was amended by the House Education Committee and would now bar the state from purchasing tests from PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), the organization whose tests are currently being used in conjunction with the implementation of common core standards.  The amendments would also limit testing to one end of the year assessment rather than two, with one assessment earlier in the year.    Testing has been very controversial this year, with complaints about the hours involved and the disruption in classroom learning.  Already, the governor has signed HB 7, that allows the disregard of this year’s testing results, and the amendments could extend this another year.  HB 74 does not address teacher evaluations.  We will be monitoring this bill to see if AAUW should speak to it.

Other issues
AAUW Lobby Corps:  Our advocate, Jennifer Dillard, is organizing a state lobby corps to respond to Statehouse activity.  It’s not necessary to be in the Columbus area to follow an issue, so please consider becoming available to speak out for AAUW’s agenda.  You can reach Jennifer at

Two-Minute Activist:  Please encourage every branch member to become a two-minute activist.  It’s easy to sign up—just go to   This enables us to respond to what’s happening at the Congressional level when called on by our national office.

Innovation Ohio’s Columbus Women’s Public Policy Network:  AAUW has been asked to join this network, which is looking at a slew of bills that have an impact on women, including child care access, Medicaid eligibility, and sexual assault.  We expect that this will be a helpful network and expand our capacity to influence policy.

State Public Policy Committee:  This committee has begun to meet via conference call to further our advocacy agenda.  We are still looking for a representative from the southeast district, so if you know of anyone with an interest, please let me know

Feedback:  We want to hear from you.  What are the issues that most concern your members?  What local organizations do you partner with?  How can we interact most effectively?  Do you need more information on an issue or bill?  Let me know at