“Faux-PARCC” Details from Louisiana’s Recently-approved NCLB Waiver Extension
Louisiana’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) temporary waiver extension was approved on December 8, 2014, based upon this amended, temporary, extended NCLB waiver application. (Note that the amendments were made to the already-late application the same day that USDOE granted approval. Looks like some rushed changes happened.)
Throughout the amended application, there is a showcasing of Louisiana’s involvement in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Then, on the declared timeline for both the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and PARCC implementation, notice the now-subdued 2014-15 “goal” (page 29):
2014-2015: Full Rigor
As required by state law, beginning with the 2014-15 school year, Louisiana will implement standards–based assessments that are based on nationally recognized standards that represent the knowledge and skills needed for students to successfully transition to postsecondary education and the workplace. BESE adopted those standards – the Common Core State Standards – in 2010. By law, state assessments must align to the state’s academic content standards.
The 3-8 ELA and math Louisiana statewide assessments will contain only items developed through the PARCC consortium. In high school, Louisiana’s End–of–Course tests will be aligned to CCSS, as they were in 2013–2014. [Emphasis added.]
That will be something for White to pull off– Spring 2015 tests in English language arts (ELA) and math for grades 3 through 8 including “only items developed through the PARCC consortium.”
Where will all of those “items” come from?
Are we buying them? Borrowing them?
Is he lying to get past this overdue NCLB waiver extension and really hasn’t enough “PARCC consortia-developed items” and plans to dip into the Data Recognition Corp (DRC) item bank since the only 2014-15 testing contracts he has (albeit legally questionable) for Louisiana is with DRC?
On December 9, 2014, I wrote a post that questioned whether Louisiana Teacher Leaders might somehow be writing PARCC items via several small contracts. I have since heard from one of those twelve teachers, and she wrote that the items were for Louisiana’s EAGLE. (See comments section of above-linked post.)
Her response only underscores the questions now raised by White’s telling USDOE that Louisiana assessments in six grades and two subject will be comprised of all PARCC-consortium-developed questions.
Who will be writing those “PARCC consortium developed” items? How are these people being reimbursed?
(An aside: Apparently Teacher Leaders are being instructed by an LDOE assessment rep that “the PARCC test is the PARCC test” despite the evidence to the contrary as included in the freshly-updated NCLB waiver extension.)
“PARCC-consortium-developed” could mean anyone that is somehow connected to the PARCC consortium. Anyone.
It is even possible that White is bringing in DRC item writers as PARCC consortium affiliates.
Who knows. But the point is, Louisiana administrators, teachers, and parents should know, but we don’t.
Instead, we have oily recitations from John White about Louisiana’s being “in PARCC.”
A subtle lie of the same caliber as my walking into an emergency room with my Ph.D. and having someone ask me, “Are you a doctor?” and my responding, “Yes,” knowing that in such a context, this person likely expects an MD, not a Ph.D., and my not bothering to offer enough information in my answer so that the inquirer might be solidly informed.
That’s John White and his promoting the false public image of Louisiana as being “in PARCC.”
What is clear is that in the amended NCLB waiver extension, White isn’t even pretending to tell the federal government that in spring 2015, Louisiana students will take the official PARCC common assessments.
Another interesting tidbit from this amended NCLB application involves no mention of Louisiana as being “bound to PARCC”– which is true based upon information in the Louisiana Register:
Part CXI. Bulletin 118―Statewide Assessment
Standards and Practices
Chapter 1. General Provisions
§113. Transition to Standards-Based Assessments in
English Language Arts and Mathematics
A. Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, the LDE
shall implement standards-based assessments in English language arts and mathematics based on nationally recognized standards approved by BESE that represent the knowledge and skills needed for students to successfully transition to postsecondary education and the workplace.
Rigorous student achievement standards shall be set with reference to test scores of the same grade levels nationally. The rigor of each standards-based assessment, at a minimum, shall be comparable to national achievement tests, including but not limited to, the national assessment of education progress.
B. For grades 3-8, standards-based assessments in English language arts and mathematics shall be developed by LDE or developed by LDE in collaboration with other states implementing nationally recognized standards that represent the same level of rigor as BESE-approved standards. [Emphasis added.]
According to Louisiana law, Louisiana is not bound to PARCC.
Moreover, Louisiana might have made promises to USDOE in Louisiana’s initial, 2012 NCLB waiver for Louisiana to be using “PARCC assessments” in 2014-15, but it looks like US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Company are overlooking such an agreement– and the “PARCC item” eleventh-hour swap White has offered– at least for now. (After all, Democratic President Obama did take a public slap with the recent election of a Republican-majority Congress, so it is in the Democratic Party best interest to lay low on the CCSS-PARCC strong-arming of states– for now.)
Besides, there is room to play games with the 2012 NCLB waiver application language, and White, well, he’s all about playing with words.
Louisiana’s 2012 NCLB waiver wording is,
Like Louisiana’s LEAP and iLEAP assessments for grades 3-8, Louisiana will continue to administer its state-created high school assessments or EOCs (End-Of-Course Tests) until the inclusion of PARCC assessments in the 2014-2015 school year“ (page 53).
Even though White is not pretending in 2014-15 to deliver on the PARCC-as-EOC replacement for high school tests, White is rigging the situation by stating Louisiana grades 3 through 8 will have assessments comprised of *all PARCC consortium-created items* (see page 65 of the 2014 NCLB waiver extension) which *technically* is PARCC….
Of course, the utter stupidity of the situation might as well be neon-lit: The whole point of a PARCC consortium is to create common assessments for all states in the consortium.
Test-driven “reform”: Games within games.
Folks, the truth is that Louisiana is only “in PARCC” to the extent that the PARCC consortium continues to allow White to sit on its governing board and advise other states that are taking the official Pearson-PARCC common assessments even though through his shady contracting, his own state is not included.
To play along with White in his farce, PARCC must be desperate to not lose any more states. In September 2010, PARCC entered the federally-funded assessment consortium scene with 25 states and DC.
Only ten of those states and DC contracted for the legitimate, Pearson-developed PARCC common assessment debut in 2014-15.
Louisiana is not among them and is instead “in PARCC” alone, with its cryptic “PARCC consortium developed items” somehow super-glued by DRC into Louisiana’s spring 2015, grades-3-to-8, ELA and math assessments.
USDOE is apparently turning its head on White’s incredibly lame “PARCC but not common assessments” sleight of words– for now.
And where is the majority of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in all of this?
Playing their own games at the expense of Louisiana school administrators, teachers, parents, and students.
Schneider is the author of the ed reform whistleblower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education