In the 2006-07 school year, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) launched a pilot of its Personalized Assessment Reporting System (PARS) for the Ohio Graduation Tests (OGT). The PARS program included several new OGT test score reports for teachers, administrators, students, and parents along with two new websites for educators and students. The new PARS test score reports and associated websites are designed to provide teachers, administrators, students and parents with more detailed information about student performance as well as numerous suggestions and resources for improving performance. One of the primary goals of PARS is to increase student motivation to pass the OGT and graduate high school. ODE hopes that by providing clear and detailed information to each student about his or her performance relative to the state standards, along with resources for improving performance and planning for the future, PARS may lead to improvements in student attitudes and behaviors that are fundamental to success in high school and beyond. Research suggests that grades or scores in the absence of constructive feedback can have a detrimental effect on student achievement (Butler 1987; 1988). The PARS reports are designed to provide this kind of detailed constructive feedback. Furthermore, by providing clear and detailed information to teachers and administrators about student performance, along with tools for making sense of the data and resources for improving and targeting instruction, PARS has the potential to inform numerous aspects of instruction.
This research report presents program evaluation findings from the first-year pilot of PARS. The primary goals for the evaluation were to (a) document the implementation of the program and (b) provide scientifically based evidence of potential impacts on instruction and student learning. The evaluation involved a district random assignment design and a mixed-methods approach to measuring program implementation and impacts. A total of 100 high schools in 60 school districts participated in this research, with 51 schools in 30 districts randomly assigned to participate in the PARS pilot during the 2006-07 school year. A subsample of 5 schools agreed to site visits during which researchers conducted interviews with teachers and students to learn more about PARS.