CW Schools superintendent questions state testing


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Canal Winchester Local Schools Superintendent James Sotlar says it’s time to pull the plug on state testing overload.

Sotlar believes in holding everyone involved in education accountable for student achievement, but questions the price children, parents, teachers and districts pay by spending weeks on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing program.

“On average, our students are spending close to double the amount of time from the former testing system (OGT/OAA),” Sotlar said. “This extensive amount of time does not include all of the test preparation.”

According to Sotlar, during testing weeks, schools are forced into alternative schedules, which have a direct impact on instruction. Teachers must focus on the test, which limits their ability to begin teaching new content.

“We talk about not having enough hours in the school year for instruction, and yet we are reducing the hours by adding extra testing,” said Sotlar. “I would like to see a testing system that only requires one day of testing for each subject area, just like we have done for the past several years. This test can be rewritten to add more rigor without adding more testing time. I would also like to see more local control and let districts use their own local diagnostic test, where feedback and instructional decision making is immediate. These tests are more important to student learning.”

Sotlar said he is not convinced districts  understand the purpose of the assessments.

“Is it for accountability? Is it to improve instruction? Is it for a report card grade? Is it for teacher evaluation? Is it for college/career readiness? Is it for all of the above and then some?” he asked.

In Sotlar’s opinion, the PARCC assessment cannot be used for multiple measures, because each area has a different meaning and metrics to determine its effectiveness. He wonders how the new test can be used to improve instruction, determine college/career readiness or teacher effectiveness when results are received long after student and teachers leave for summer break.

Sotlar said there needs to be one clear purpose for the test, and it needs to be communicated to everyone in a timely manner so districts can prepare for the test.

“I cannot state the amount of stress this new assessment system has put upon our students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Today’s society is stressful enough for young adults, and now we just added a whole different level of stress that has never been seen before,” said Sotlar.

He admitted there was a stress factor when the state first required the proficiency test, OGT, OAT and OAA assessments. However, he said nothing compares to stress level the new PARCC assessments have placed on students.

“It is our responsibility to educate, nourish, empower, and develop our next generation of leaders, and yet we are going to determine their fate with a test that may mean little to nothing 10 years out of high school,” said Sotlar. “There is so much more that goes into developing the whole person that cannot be measured by a test—character, values, work ethic, leadership – these attributes are just as important, if not more important, than passing a state assessment. If we are going to hold students accountable, then we need to assess the whole person and not just whether they pass a test.”

Sotlar urged anyone concerned with the number of state mandated tests to provide their input online to the new Senate Advisory Committee on Testing. Send comments to

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  1. Thank you so much for speaking out on this, Mr. Sotlar! This is exactly why I opted my children out of the PARCC assessments this year.

  2. It’s about polititions making money at our kids expense. Bill Gates and others have invested millions into this in order to data mine our children. The top 1 percent will be tracked from kindergarten through college and will be offered top jobs in technical fields.
    The rest will be jobless and clueless.
    If you think the government cares about our kids, think again. If common core continues without push back, it will then be implemented into the social studies, science (global warming),
    and history (rewritten to fit liberal and progressive agendas). The USA is in sad shape. PLEASE wake up people! Make sure you vote for constitutional leaders, not Career polititions.

    Rand Paul,Ted Cruz,Mike Lee, are solid choices. Jeb Bush and Huckabee are poor choices. In fact they back it and designed it! FOLLOW THE MONEY AND YOU WILL FIGURE IT OUT.

    INFORM your friends and family.
    A lot of people don’t like to talk about politics, but it is so very important.
    Too many people are miss informed by the
    Mainstream liberal media.

  3. My kids lost a month of academic time due to various forms of over testing. Enough is enough. If teachers are so lousy we need all of this testing then let us start holding the universities accountable for THEIR failure.

    Until then we should trust teachers to do their jobs. No other profession mandates their members to continue higher education like education.

    I’m opting out of PARC next year. I want my tax dollars in education and not lining some speculative testing company’s pocket.

  4. I would love to see a 1 day test for all subjects. We literally have tested February to May. I teach science and when my test is over, will have 11 days left before summer break. So basically instruction runs August to February.


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