PARCC Test Dropped by Ohio, Replaced with AIR

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Illustration by: Madison Krell.

It was no walk in the PARCC, but now it’s over.

The 2014-2015 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests have been removed across Ohio, changing the face of Common Core testing.

In the Spring of 2015, Mason was introduced to a new state test set to replace the Ohio Graduation Test. The online assessment called for students to take End of Course Exams in English, Math, and Physical Science.

After the conclusion of the school year, talks about replacing PARCC as the state test arose. Dr. Heather Sass, Chief Academic Officer of Mason City Schools said with the signing of the state’s budget bill came the removal of the tests.

“Because of the law that was passed in June, Ohio is now no longer apart of that partnership (with PARCC),” Sass said. “That left us with English and Mathematics testing needed, so we sought out the American Institutes of Research (AIR) to facilitate the development of our own test.”

The majority of PARCC testing was done online, quickly making issues with technology evident. According to Sass, PARCC was deemed unfit for state testing after schools expressed concerns with technology and the amount of testing.

“PARCC had some aspects of its registration and technology platform that were very awkward and cumbersome,” Sass said. “Our legislators also listened to the fact that having a performance-based and an end-of-course part of the test made for too many testing sessions.”

The Class of 2018 in Mason will be the first class not to take the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) their sophomore year. Last year, freshman students worked towards the new graduation requirement, sitting through 12 days of 90-minute testing sessions. Initiation of the PARCC tests immediately sparked frustrations with students. According to sophomore Gabi Renshaw, the extensive testing seemed out of place due to the outdated test material.

“The tests that we took—we didn’t do any of that stuff in school that year,” Renshaw said. “It wasn’t assessing us on what we learned freshman year when we took it.”

With the implement of AIR, improvements from PARCC are expected to be made. According to MHS Principal, Dave Hyatt, AIR’s two 90-minute testing sessions won’t require students or teachers to miss as many classes.

“It is less intrusive; you will have less instructional time lost,” Hyatt said. “Our teachers will be able to teach more, test less, which is a good thing.”

According to Sass, many aspects of last year’s testing will remain the same; however, the new science exam will assess students on biology, not physical science.

“Last year students may have taken a physical science (exam) and that test is no longer. It’s switched completely to biology,” Sass said. “But if you took the physical science test last year (the points) will count.”

Students are set to take the tests from April 4-May 13. Sass said she is pleased with what AIR has accomplished for the state, and expects the new tests to continue to be a part of Ohio’s state tests.

“I think it has a very good chance (of staying in the long run),” Sass said. “In Ohio it’s really good for us to have tests that are targeted towards our standards by our educators, and I think that’s what AIR has accomplished for us. In that way I think AIR is a good move for us.”

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Lakota East outlasts young Comets in five sets, takes first in GMC

The Greater Miami Conference has a new leader, but it’s not Mason.

The Comet volleyball team took on Lakota East last night in a match-up that would determine the new conference leader. After five sets with scores of 25-17, 23-25, 25-23, 17-25, and 15-8, the Thunderhawks emerged victorious.

The Comets struggled to find their rhythm during the first set, resulting in a series of dropped balls and hits into the net. While the girls eventually tied it up, it wasn’t enough to make up for lost ground: East gained seven consecutive points, and the first set was theirs. According to head coach Tiann Myer, nerves and the team’s inexperience led to a shaky start.

“I think that they were a little nervous coming out,” Myer said. “We’re a very young team, so starting off they know that it’s a big hype.”

During the second set, things started to turn around for Mason. The athletes were more aggressive at the net and forced East to use both timeouts. According to Myer, the change can be accredited to the girls being more focused.

“We bounced back because we realized we could play with them,” Myer said. “We started focusing a little bit more on our game versus what they were doing, and things just started coming together for us in that second game.”

Mason hung with Lakota throughout the third set, but a few controversial calls ruled in East’s favor allowed East to take it 25-23. The two teams were point for point during the fourth set, but Mason pulled away after a series of kills and ended the set 25-17 with an ace. The deciding set was all Lakota. Mason exhausted both timeouts, but the breaks weren’t enough to prevent Lakota East from taking the match-deciding set, 15-8.

Myer said she was impressed with her team’s performance, and with only four returning varsity players, her young team has a lot of potential.

“Overall, it was a really good night,” Myer said. “I know the potential’s there; the talent’s there and they really showed that, so I was extremely happy with how we played.”

With the defeat, Mason’s undefeated GMC record is no longer intact, but Myer said with more than a month of volleyball left to be played, nothing is set in stone.

“If we keep playing the way we do, they might end up losing one; we could tie,” Myer said. “We’ll put together what we need to and then focus more on the post-season.”

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Photo by: Blake Nissen

Church vs. State: Davis Defies the Supreme Court

Love may have won, but Kim Davis refuses to stop fighting.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, legalizing the practice nationwide. Despite the ruling, the nation remained divided on the issue prevalent in the 5-4 ruling.

This Tuesday, same-sex marriage supporters received new opposition: Kentucky’s County Clerk Kim Davis.

Davis, an Apostolic Christian, says she was acting “Under God’s authority” when she decided not to issue a marriage license to any couple; gay or straight. There have been many protests to the ruling, some Christians saying the bible clearly states marriage should be between a man and a woman.

By refusing to issue David Ermold and David Moore a marriage license, Davis blatantly defied the Supreme Court. This encouraged people to speak up and tell her to either carry out the law, or find another job.

While Davis just recently started making headlines, the issue has been ongoing for weeks. Davis has been defiant of the new law from the day it was passed. District Judge David Bunning initially ordered that Davis remain in jail until she agreed to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples but reconsidered, landing Davis a court date for earlier this afternoon.

Davis being a county-clerk had employees under her–one of whom was her son. She ordered the six deputy-clerks to follow her lead and refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples. When brought before a judge, all of the deputy-clerks said they were afraid of defying Davis, and that they would issue the licenses without further complication–well, all but one of them. Davis’s son Nathan, 21, refused to issue the licenses just as his mom had done before him.

As a result of the many conflicts, on September 3, Kim Davis was found in contempt of the court and was ordered to spend the night in jail. Prosecutors agreed to let Davis off with a fine, but Bunning didn’t think ordering her to pay a fine would be enough, and there was a lesson she needed to learn.

“I myself have genuinely held religious beliefs, but I took an oath,” Bunning said. “Mrs. Davis took an oath. Oaths mean things.”

Religion aside, Kim Davis works for the state. Whether she agrees with the ruling or not, she is required to issue a marriage license to any couple that walks through the door. On June 26, David Ermold and David Moore were granted the right to marry whomever they wanted. On September 1, that right was taken away from them.

LGBT supporters demand equality outside Ashland federal courthouse and Kim Davis’s hearing before Judge Bunning

(Video Credit: KENTUCKY.COM)