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Mississippi Exits PARCC; Louisiana Still Fakes Legitimate Participation

January 16, 2015

Yep. One more state is exiting the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

On January 16, 2015, the Mississippi State Board oef Education voted to drop PARCC beginning 2015-16. For only 2014-15, Mississippi has contracted with Pearson for the PARCC assessments. However, the board will open up the Request for Proposals (RFP) process in order to have a testing company develop assessments unique to Mississippi.

Chairman of the Mississippi education board John Kelly said that exiting PARCC “will help ensure that the [RFP] process is transparent.”

In Louisiana, the connection with the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) and the PARCC assessments has been anything but “transparent.” Louisiana State Superintendent John White insists that Louisiana is taking PARCC assessments; however, Louisiana has no contract with Pearson for the 2014-15 PARCC tests. Instead, in shoddy, dark-alley fashion, official PARCC vendor Pearson has concocted some mystery arrangement to “hand over” PARCC items to Data Recognition Corp (DRC) so that DRC can “deliver” PARCC tests to Louisiana.

LDOE still has a testing contract with DRC for 2014-15, but DRC is not the PARCC-consortium-chosen vendor of the PARCC assessments.

LDOE has never initiated a legitimate RFP process for PARCC assessments. A legitimate RFP process would have required LDOE to open bidding to testing companies other than Pearson– a fact that Mississippi Board Chair John Kelly recognizes.

For LDOE to have followed proper procedure regarding Pearson-PARCC, LDOE would have had to open bidding and then determine that Pearson-PARCC was the best bid. LDOE failed to follow procedure. Instead, John White’s plan all along was to sidestep proper RFP prcedure and illegally graft PARCC assessments in using a DRC contract.

Since Louisiana is now dependent on White’s RFP-dodging, DRC-for-PARCC plan, this means that it is DRC that has a contract with Pearson for Louisiana’s PARCC assessments, and not even the full Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) is privy to the details. The public is also in the dark on this one.

LDOE has a contract with DRC; DRC has a contract with Pearson; Pearson has a contract with the PARCC consortium for 2014-18 PARCC tests.

What White wants the public to do is just forget that middle component above and settle into the idea that LDOE “has” PARCC assessments.

There is no telling what Louisiana has “agreed” to for this special, laundered PARCC “opportunity.”

“Transparent” John White will offer no DRC-Pearson contract details and is apparently fine with handing off responsibility for the assessment of almost 400,000 Louisiana third-through-eighth-graders to some closet arrangement.

Though the terms of this DRC-Pearson arrangement are intentionally not being made public even in BESE meetings, both LDOE and BESE are liable for the outcomes.

The public’s best recourse is to submit public records requests to LDOE for emails between LDOE and DRC, and between LDOE and Pearson, and between LDOE and the PARCC consortium, regarding Louisiana’s 2014-15 PARCC tests, particularly from May 2014 to present.

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education

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  1. Jerry Heverly permalink

    Will the last state dropping CCSS please turn off the automated online grading program.

  2. When are we all also going to be leaving PARCC? I know we had practice testing here in IL this week and it was a fiasco. The techies I know said it was both great and awful. It was great that it didn’t work and awful that that will still have to take the real test in the spring despite not working now! And again…all of this is based on CCSS!

  3. Sherrye Ginn permalink

    This madness with PARCC has to stop. What they expect our kids and teachers to do is just ridiculous. What will it take for them…him…to come to his senses?

  4. As you know, I submitted such a public information request on Dec. 10:
    Ms. Barrios:

    The Department’s public affairs office has requested that I provide you with the attached item in response to your December 10, 2014 request seeking:

    “Copies of any licensing agreement between DRC and Pearson and/ or LDE and Pearson and/or PARCC and Pearson, and/or PARCC and LDE referenced below, which will allow or provide the PARCC test or questions from the PARCC test to be used by DRC in its creation of a “PARCC” test for Louisiana.”

    I can be reached at (225) 342-3572 should you have any questions regarding this matter.


    Troy Anthony Humphrey
    Attorney, LDOE

    What I finally received n Dec. 17 was a copy of the PARCC MOU which I have had for some time but which is NOT responsive to my request.

    This represents a failure to provide public records which is illegal.

  5. I followed up my first public information request with this one on Dec. 10, to make sure I covered all the bases and recieved this response on Dec 12:

    Ms. Barrios:

    On December 10, 2014 the Louisiana Department of Education received your email containing the following: As per Louisiana Public Information statutes, please provide the following:

    Any and all correspondence between John White and PARCC governing board members or legal representatives, John White and DRC, John White and Pearson regarding the use of Pearson created PARCC assessments/questions/items by LDE or DRC and regarding the plans to administer or not administer the Pearson/PARCC test – being produced as per the New Mexico contract -between 1/1/2013 to date.

    The Department’s public affairs office requested that I notify you that with regards to the above-mentioned requests as written, and within the ambit of La. R.S. 44:33 the Department will identify and locate any public records in its’ possession that are responsive to your requests and are not subject to any exceptions provided by law.

    Please be aware that some records in the possession of the Department of Education may contain personal student information or other data subject to redaction. It may be necessary for the Department to review any responsive records and make the necessary redactions in order to prevent the release of personally identifiable information. Upon the completion of this process, you will be contacted in order that arrangements can be made for the duplication of any responsive public records or to set a time for your inspection of any responsive public records.

    I can be reached at (225) 342-3572 should you have any questions regarding this matter


    Troy Anthony Humphrey
    Attorney, LDOE
    cc public affairs

    On January 5, having received no information, I emailed Mr. Humphrey to notify him that I would be at the Claiborne Building after 3:00 following the Accountability Commission meeting to retrieve public records. I received no response. I called Mr. Humphrey at approximately 3:45 and recieved no response not was there a recorded message. To date, Mr. Humphrey has not responded to my communications.

  6. Christine Lyles permalink

    Our parish recently held a PD with LDOE personnel concerning testing. One individual was going through a powerpoint listing what would be on the test (a VERY confusing list — wording was vague and not very specific). During the powerpoint, the Supervisor stood up and stated, “This is PARCC; it is NOT PARCC-like. Louisiana is using PARCC. DRC is only printing the tests.” Having read so many of your blogs, I wondered how this could be. However, no explanation was given; just the statement.

    • If it were PARCC, Louisiana would have a contract directly with Pearson. But no. We have a go-between: DRC. Both DRC and Pearson are for-profits. So, what are the terms for Pearson to “give” PARCC to DRC?

      Until the public sees the contract between DRC and Pearson, the word of LDOE personnel means nothing.

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