LIMA — Like others in the region, Delphos schools will be ready when state online testing begins in the 2014-15 school year, but also like many, getting there won’t be easy.
“It will be difficult, but I don’t think the state cares,” Superintendent Frank Sukup said. “It is going to be a pain. The concept is probably good, but the reality is not everyone is capable of doing this.”
All state testing will be online when the state implements the Common Core Student Standards in the 2014-15 school year. There have been reports around the state of school districts, especially those in rural areas, not having enough computers to have all pupils take the tests.
Delphos pupils are in older buildings, putting the school at a disadvantage to meeting the testing mandate right off the bat. The district is nowhere close to being eligible for state facilities money.
Delphos has been purchasing computers and upgrading for the past two years. If it ends up not having enough computers, officials have to scramble to get more or do some innovative scheduling. Money will be an issue, Sukup said.
“It is interesting that they want to do all of this, but there is never any funds to implement it,” he said.
Elida schools will fare better at the new high school and the middle school than the elementary school building, the oldest in the district. While electrical capacity causes some issues, Superintendent Don Diglia said the bigger worry is space.
“We cannot put in a computer lab anywhere because there isn’t any room,” he said. “We are working with mobile labs, but with 950 in the building, that is a lot of students.”
Two computer labs in the elementary school buildings and an additional computer station at the high school will make it a little easier for Ottawa-Glandorf schools. Superintendent Kevin Brinkman said the district will increase its bandwidth this summer. It will be an additional cost to the district, Brinkman said, but without the improvement, the testing couldn’t happen.
“It appears we have enough computers, but if everybody is hitting them at the same time, we are unclear how that is going to affect the whole process,” he said.
While testing used to be required over a one-week span, the state is giving districts a larger window of time. It has been reported that districts could seek permission to use a paper test if they can’t get enough computers. Districts would have two years to get enough computers.
Several districts, including Ottawa and Lima schools, piloted the new test last year. Brinkman said it went well without issues, but only one grade level participated.
The larger window of time will benefit districts. Technology Director Peter Badertscher said it isn’t feasible to have every pupil taking the test at the same time. He said he believes the district will be ready.
“We have a fairly solid infrastructure here. Thanks to the community support, we have what a lot of schools don’t,” he said, referring to newer buildings and permanent-improvement money approved by voters in November. A good portion of the levy funds went toward technology. “If the levy had not passed, it would have pressed us hard to come up with enough new machines that can run the program.”
The new online test is expected to bring about quicker feedback on how pupils did. It will reduce the amount of paper used, Badertscher said, and should be a more comprehensive and interactive test.
“It could be a very powerful assessment if it is made correctly,” he said. “If not, it will just be a paper test taken over the Internet. If it is meaningful, valid and reliable, then it will be a step up from where we are right now. It depends on what the state comes up with.”