PARCC’s Lately-Published “Test Fairness and Security” Statement
Under the heading, “Latest News,” the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has posted a message entitled, Test Fairness and Security. Here is the document:
Here is the text:
The PARCC states are committed to secure testing because we believe fair tests are essential to better preparing the next generation for success. The states contract with a test vendor to search public social media and websites for images or words from live tests, which are copyright infringements and jeopardize the fairness of the test for all students.Sharing images of test items via Twitter, Instagram, or other public social media sites – or posting basic information about test items – is today’s equivalent of photocopying a test and passing it out on the schoolhouse steps. Cell phones are not allowed in the testing session and test administrators are instructed to tell all students before the test that sharing any test question online is prohibited.The PARCC states’ policy follows the best practices outlined by the Council of Chief State School Officers, which recommends that there should be “procedures to monitor the internet and social websites before, during and after test administration for any evidence the items and/or answers have been shared” online. In order to maintain test security, each PARCC state contracted with its test vendor, Pearson, to search for any live PARCC test questions that are shared through public social media sites. This is standard practice for large-scale tests including ACT and SAT.
PARCC now openly admits its “contracting with a test vendor to search public social media.” They note that they are looking for evidence of “copyright infringement.”
PARCC has contracted with Pearson to monitor social media. Pearson’s monitoring of social media is only implied in the 2014-18 Pearson-PARCC contract. According to page 50, the PARCC consortium has specifically authorized Pearson to hire several subcontractors, including Caveon Test Security. However, the contract terms are clear that Pearson is responsible for its subcontractors.
At any rate, in releasing its “testing fairness and security” statement, it seems that PARCC is trying to take the heat off of Pearson.
I do not believe that the public should let either one off of the hook. All of this testing is a black hole for school funding, and a slice of that funding is paying for “before, during, and after” social media monitoring.
Never forget: testing is a business, and the more “embedded” (Pearson’s word) testing becomes into the American public education experience, the bigger the business will become, and the more control the business will exercise not only in test prep prior to testing and actual administration, but also in monitoring the public “before, during and following” testing.
As for those CCSSO “best practices” for monitoring social media, the public must dish out $30 in order to read them. Apparently CCSSO does not consider it a “best practice” to make its suggestion to monitor social media readily available to the very public it proposes to monitor. And neither does PARCC or Pearson, until they are cornered on the very social media they are monitoring.
One way that the public can guarantee PARCC and Pearson that their unprecedented testing will be secure is to not take the tests in the first place.
I’m for that.
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.