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PARCC Attrition from 2011 to 2014: Not Looking Good for Pearson

December 16, 2014

Several years ago, education giant Pearson must have had some high hopes for the profits it would rake in with the spring 2015 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments related to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

That was before the reality of slenderized, 2015 PARCC customer base came to be.

Indeed, the PARCC trim-down did not happen quickly– but it has happened– and it might not even be finished.

PARCC exited the 2011 starting gate with 24 states plus DC.

By the close of 2014, PARCC states actually and legitimately contracted with Pearson for its PARCC assessments is less than half the initial 2011 count.

Let us consider the PARCC Consortium of Old, and the PARCC Notably-lesser Consortium of Now.

From the Bandwagon More to the Party is Ending Less– much to Pearson’s CCSS-profit-garnering disappointment, I am sure–and to the PARCC consortium’s disappointment, as well.

It’s difficult to be a consortium if the consorters won’t stick around and consort.

In May 2011, here is what the PARCC website looked like:

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is a group of 25 states committed to building a next-generation assessment system.

PARCC states collectively educate more than 31 million public K-12 students in the United States, over 60% of all students enrolled in the nation’s public schools.

What brought all of these states together is a shared commitment to develop an assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards that is anchored in college and career readiness; provides comparability across states; has the ability to assess and measure higher-order skills such as critical thinking, communications, and problem solving; and provides truly useful information for educators, parents, and students alike.

While each state has their own priorities and challenges, PARCC provides the opportunity for these 25 states to come together and collectively move the field forward and break new ground in assessment design.

The number of (actually) 24 initial states signing on for PARCC included AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MA, MS, NJ, NY, ND, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, and TN– and DC.

One month later, in June 2011, the PARCC consortium decided not to advertise a specific number of PARCC states on its website– though the loss in states is reflected in the drop in PARCC states’ students from 31 million in May 2011 to 25 million in June 2011:

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is a group of states committed to building a next-generation assessment system.

PARCC states collectively educate about 25 million public K-12 students in the United States.

What brought all of these states together is a shared commitment to develop an assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards that is anchored in college and career readiness; provides comparability across states; has the ability to assess and measure higher-order skills such as critical thinking, communications, and problem solving; and provides truly useful information for educators, parents, and students alike.

While each state has their own priorities and challenges, PARCC provides the opportunity for participating states to come together and collectively move the field forward and break new ground in assessment design. In addition, many of the PARCC states are on the leading edge of education reform, including 10 of the 12 winning Race to the Top states.

California left. Twenty-three states and DC remained.

However, PARCC was able to advertise 10 out of 12 Race to the Top (RTTT) winners. A federally-funded, test-driven-market-driven-reform trophy.

When Pearson threw its mammoth assessment hat in the PARCC ring in early 2012, the above “25 million students” still included 23 states and DC. Now, Pearson knew it would not test all of these 25 million K12 students, but it did expect to test many– the ones in grades 3 through 8, and one high-school grade.

Given the No Child Left Behind (NCLB)-initiated testing push of the federal government–one that was further advanced via RTTT– perhaps it had dreams to test them all years down the road.

By August 2012, with South Carolina’s exit, PARCC was at 22 states plus DC.

By February 23, 2013, Alabama was out, and though Alabama was dropped from the sidebar list of PARCC states, it took a couple of weeks for the PARCC website to reduce its number of students from 25 million to 24 million.

By August 2013, both Georgia and North Dakota were done, and PARCC once again adjusted its website descriptor:

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is a group of states committed to building a next-generation assessment system.

PARCC states collectively educate about 22 million public K-12 students in the United States.

What brought all of these states together is a shared commitment to develop an assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards that is anchored in college and career readiness; provides comparability across states; has the ability to assess and measure higher-order skills such as critical thinking, communications, and problem solving; and provides truly useful information for educators, parents, and students alike.

While each state has their own priorities and challenges, PARCC provides the opportunity for participating states to come together and collectively move the field forward and break new ground in assessment design. In addition, many of the PARCC states are on the leading edge of education reform, including 9 of the 12 winning Race to the Top states.

Down to 19 states plus DC.

Notice also “10 out of 12” RTTT states is now 9 out of 12. Still a selling point for PARCC, no?

With Oklahoma’s exit by January 2014, 18 states and DC.

Though Oklahoma was dropped from the sidebar listing of states, PARCC website continued to advertise 22 million students in PARCC states.

Also in January 2014, Maryland officially took over as PARCC’s fiscal agent after Florida resigned the role in November 2013.

By March 2014, Kentucky left. Sidebar updated, yet PARCC website still advertised 22 million students.

Also by March 2014, Pearson began administering PARCC field test. PARCC website announces that 14 states and DC participated.

By May 2014, the field test was over; PARCC states were down to 16 plus DC (Florida exited), and PARCC finally updated its website descriptor to reflect the most recent attrition:

PARCC: A State Look

PARCC member states collectively educate about 15 million public K-12 students in the United States. In addition, many of the PARCC states are on the leading edge of education reform – including 8 of the 12 winning “Race to the Top” states.

Our Goal

These states came together through a shared commitment to develop an assessment system that accurately measures college and career readiness; provides consistency and comparability across states; has the ability to assess and measure higher-order skills such as critical thinking, communications, and problem solving; and provides truly useful information for educators, parents, and students alike.

While each state has its own priorities and challenges, the PARCC consortium provides the opportunity for participating states to come together and collectively design a more high-quality assessment that measures real world skills. 

Now the original “10 out of 12” RTTT states has dropped to 8 out of 12. Still good, still good….

Once June 2014 rolled around, PARCC enrollment dropped to 14 states plus DC (Arizona and Tennessee were done).

And by December 2014, the PARCC website description advertises 12 million K12 students served in PARCC states– just over one-third of the initial 31 million– and PARCC has stopped counting the number of RTTT states:

PARCC: A State Look

Active PARCC Governing Board states* collectively educate more than 12 million public K-12 students. The PARCC states include some of the highest performing states in the nation, and many are on the leading edge of education reform – including a number of winning Race to the Top states.

 *In addition to the active governing board states, Pennsylvania is a “participating” state, which means that it is interested in the consortium’s activities, but has made no decision about using the PARCC assessments.

Note: PARCC states committing to the spring 2015 assessment had to send Pearson a 15 percent down payment by July 30, 2014. Only DC and 10 of these 12 “active states” paid Pearson. Pennsylvania did not.

The ten states ponying up for the 2014-15 PARCC common assessments are AR, CO, IL, MD, MA, MS, NJ, NM, OH, and RI. DC is also in.

Now, the entire point of PARCC was for states to have “common” assessments to go along with their “common” CCSS.

Neither New York nor Louisiana entered into a 2015 contract for PARCC with Pearson. New York extended a previous contract with Pearson for other Pearson assessments for spring 2015, and Louisiana State Superintendent John White is attempting to rig a connection between Louisiana spring 2015 assessments to be administered by a company that is not Pearson– Data Recognition Corp (DRC)– by acquiring “PARCC-consortium-developed items” that are Pearson-possessed via a clouded arrangement not allowed the other ten states plus DC who have paid for legitimate PARCC assessments– and who are possibly footing the bill for Louisiana’s special arrangement of “PARCC via DRC.”

Meanwhile, as Hofstra University Professor Alan Singer captured so well in his December 15, 2014, HuffPost piece, Pearson is facing litigation, federal investigation, and fiscal disappointment.

Surely PARCC’s diminished membership as a CCSS-testing customer base for Pearson is among Pearson’s notable woes.

And, to add to Pearson’s sadness, Congress has killed lame-duck Obama’s RTTT funding.

How ever will the USA be First in the Test-score-driven World?

In May 2014, I wrote this post about Pearson’s February 2014 earnings call and Pearson’s literally banking on CCSS in the USA.

When asked by one of the market analysts about Pearson’s alternate plan if CCSS did not work out in the USA, Fallon offered no response.

As of February 2014, Pearson apparently had no Plan B if CCSS– and its assessments– do not pay out as planned.

At the time that the analyst asked his question, PARCC still had 17 states and DC– and PARCC still advertised assessing 22 million students.

In its PARCC contract for 2014-18, Pearson based the pricing of its assessments upon an assumed minimum of 5.5 million students tested. (See page 67 of contract.)

In a likely-disappointing reality for the CCSS-profit-wishing Pearson, it contracted with only 10 states plus DC to offer its PARCC assessments for spring 2015– and to fewer than 5 million students– which is below its lowest anticipated threshold of 5.5 million.

Pearson will not come close to testing even half of the 22 million PARCC students advertised on the PARCC website in February 2014– the time of the above-cited Pearson earnings call.

That must be a real bummer for a Pearson CEO with no Plan B.

Chin up, though, Fallon: No matter what, Louisiana Superintendent John White will hang by you– even if he has to give Louisiana taxpayer millions to another testing company to do so.

_______________________________________________

Schneider is author of the ed reform whistleblower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education

previti chronicle pic

 

18 Comments
  1. Laura Chapman permalink

    This is an astonishing record of the withdrawal process. I hope Pearson is damaged, along with Achieve who put this package together. Pearson still has a bunch of other tests, but the plan for economies of scale are gone.

    Laura H. Chapman 2444 Madison Rd. Unit 1501 Cincinnati, OH 45208 513-861-7118 Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. Reblogged this on Pushing the Pendulum and commented:
    A breakdown of the waning support for PARCC. The truth is that it is not in the best interest for our children. But my question is that if the PARCC does go as quickly as it came, what about all of the money that schools rushed to spend on technology? Tech companies will still make out like bandits from it all.

  3. ira shor permalink

    Great to have this timeline detailed for the decline of PARCC, many thanks. Our opposition to the testing giant is working.

  4. Pearson forgot to mention that this test is FORCED on those children by Arne Duncan and the DOE through dangling carrot bribery in the shrinking number of states that remain unless their parents Opt Out, and I suspect the Opt Out movement will grow shrinking the claim of millions of students taking the test by even more.

    I PRAY that Pearson loses money on this venture. That they will have invested more into this FRAUD than they will earn back.

  5. Can we hope for the same for SBAC? I’m still unclear as to how they are different in any way. CA is hoping SBAC has the same fate in our state.

    • SBAC is still advertising 21 states plus the Virgin Islands. If they are falling apart, it is not yet obvious.

  6. Joe gonzales permalink

    Thank you so much. I am sharing with my fellow New Mexicans through numerous channels. it may be my own fault, but I have been Unable to find a definitive answer as to whether or not the governance board of PARCC is compensated. Can you point me in the right direction?

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