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PARCC Changes Info on Its “States” Page to Encourage Other “Assessment Solutions”

April 29, 2015

It seems that the PARCC consortium website has undergone a subtle change at some point between April 6, 2015, and April 15, 2015.

The change I noticed is to the PARCC consortium website page entitled, “PARCC States.”

Here is how the page used to read (April 6, 2015, archive):

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.

Our Goal

These states came together through a shared commitment to develop a new way of testing – far more rigorous than in the past, far more engaging for students and far better suited to measuring student understanding, reasoning and ability to apply concepts.

By working together, the PARCC states can collectively design a more high-quality assessment that builds a pathway to college and career readiness by the end of high school, mark students’ progress toward this goal from third grade up, and provide teachers with timely information to inform instruction and provide student support.

 *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.

Find your state in the list to the left of this page to see the latest on your state.

Now, compare the above language to the “PARCC States makeover” that happened at some point between April 6 and April 15:

PARCC States

A hallmark of the PARCC consortium is state involvement. PARCC states make policy and test design decisions and are in control of their assessment. Classroom teachers, principals, curriculum directors and other educators, as well as experts and state education agency staff from PARCC states have actively participated in developing and implementing the PARCC assessments. Students in 13 states are participating in the 2014-2015 administration of the PARCC tests: Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts,Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

PARCC states and Parcc Inc., the nonprofit project manager for the PARCC states, works with test vendors, states and other education entities interested in offering assessment solutions that include PARCC content.

Note: New York did not administer PARCC tests in 2015, and Louisiana has no 2015 contract for Pearson-vended PARCC.

Some interesting lingo here, though. Looks like PARCC governing board chair Mitchell Chester and his PARCC consortium are trying to convince the public that “PARCC states”– not official PARCC vendor, Pearson– held the dominant role in PARCC item construction.

That line of thinking only works if one does not investigate the PARCC consortium contractual arrangements for item development– or if one does not read the PARCC website archives.

Let’s start with the PARCC contract arrangements:

In this December 2014 post, I detail the PARCC item development history, beginning with former PARCC fiscal agent, Florida, and its December 2011 Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) PARCC item development.  Initially, both ETS and Pearson were vying for the PARCC contract (with both ETS and Pearson developing items). In May 2014, Pearson won the contract. The Pearson contract directly states that “contractor develops items” and “committees review” the items “to ensure they meet the requirements detailed in the PARCC quality guidelines.” The contract also states that Pearson holds the item bank.

And now, for a PARCC website archive excerpt dated April 30, 2013. This excerpt makes issues of PARCC “development” clearer:

Classroom teachers, state-level content experts, higher education faculty, PARCC staff members and consultants and ETS and Pearson staff conducted several rounds of review over the past year and a half to discuss and make revisions to the documents to ensure they reflected the highest quality alignment to the Common Core State Standards and the vision of the next-generation PARCC assessment system. [Emphasis added.]

Notice that the “new,” PARCC States webpage omits the presence of “ETS and Pearson staff” in that PARCC item review. It is not convenient to include testing company staff among the stakeholder reviewers, so let’s just not mention that part.

Indeed, it looks like the PARCC consortium is trying to distance itself from Pearson (ETS has long been out of the official-PARCC-vending picture). The “new” PARCC States page alludes to “testing vendors” (plural) and “solutions including PARCC content,” which also reads like an attempt to legitimize Louisiana’s shaky “PARCC” arrangement. (In Louisiana in 2015, Data Recognition Corp (DRC) is serving as a shady middleman to somehow connect the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) with Pearson, a testing company with which LDOE has no legitimate contract for PARCC.)

An attempt to reshape the PARCC image: It’s not a set of assessments; no, no, and certainly not obligated to be tied to increasingly-unpopular Pearson. PARCC is now “content” that the states can include in their own tests created by any testing company the state chooses.

Those “consortium developed tests” are being whittled down to a token set of shared items that the PARCC states might somehow compare, a watery means of holding onto “consortium” while being able to not call it as much if need be.

Even though Pearson might not be popular, don’t think that there is no possibility for Pearson to benefit from this new, a-la-carte item arrangement.

If those now-PARCC-encouraged, state-selected testing companies are to be able to utilize the items that Pearson developed as part of a PARCC-consortium contract that extends to 2017-18, then those testing companies would have to enter into some formal contract with Pearson. (This is what the public was told happened regarding Louisiana “PARCC” in 2015. DRC and Pearson made some sort of arrangement. However, the public has yet to learn of the details.)

Via this new arrangement in which states select their own testing vendors and include Pearson-PARCC items, both the PARCC consortium and Pearson might be hoping to drum up some more state business. As it is, PARCC attrition is pretty embarrassing– and costly.

And embarrassing.

“Next generation” embarrassing.

PARCC buttons

______________________________________________

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.

She also has her second book available on pre-order, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, due for publication June 12, 2015.

CC book cover

 

 

 

 

 

5 Comments
  1. Monica permalink

    So the District of Columbia is a state now?

  2. Laura chapman permalink

    The rewriting is also happening on the Common Core website and nationally by various groups, many in a collaborative paid for by the billionaires …the Collaborative for Student Success. The rhetoric is now about tests that offer proofs of college and career readiness. Higher education administrators are being enlisted to accept the scores on these tests for admission, in effect by-passing ACT and SAT scores and also undermining the academic freedom of faculty.
    The higher education messaging is done under the banner of Higher Ed for Higher Standards. Meanwhile the new single accreditor of teacher education programs will be looking for evidence of compliance withthe CCSS in program content. That agency is the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation and the CEO is Sharon Robinson, also a Trustee of Corinthian Colleges, recently in the news as a failed rip-off entity and in the process of being closed, with a buyer in the wings. The CAEP standards were written to pass muster with Arne Duncan’s education=management mantra and love of on-line teacher prep.

  3. This is a bit off-topic, but I thought you might appreciate the absurd lengths that politicos will go to in misrepresenting who actually supports them. Comments reveal the complete transparency:
    https://sturdyblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/small-business-letter-to-the-telegraph-an-attempt-to-defraud-the-electorate/
    In this instance, it appears that David Cameron’s campaign staff sent out a form letter, and when someone clicked on the link, they captured the URL as a signature. Telegraph didn’t bother to fact-check, but an independent did, which revealed a massive fraud.

  4. Ursula Wolfe-Rocca permalink

    It looks to me like PARCC is taking a page from the Orwellian SBAC website that we are suffering through in Oregon. The prominence of Pearson in PARCC has been a crucial motivating factor in the wonderful resistance we have been seeing. Because the eduprofiteers are better hidden in what I have taken to calling The Consortium’s (SBAC) materials, it has been harder to stir up resistance to the tests (in SBAC states) based on this line of argumentation. I have been spending the last weeks trying to do research on SBAC contracts and it is absolutely astonishing how fully The Consortium has scrubbed the web of info — any organization that spends that much energy obscuring every last detail about its origins, governance, finances and practices cannot be entirely above board. Nevertheless here is some interesting stuff, which you probably already know, but which I am trying to pursue and publicize here in Oregon.

    • Since SBAC’s Race to the Top grant ran out, it has been housed at UCLA’s education school. (http://www.smarterbalanced.org/news/states-move-forward-smarter-balanced/) This move also seems to coincide with the end of publicly available quarterly reports, which list SBAC’s subcontracts. The most recent report I could find was from June of 2013. There you will see contracts with Educational Testing Service, AIR, Amplify, McGraw-Hill, Pearson and many more. (http://www.smarterbalanced.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Quarterly-Report-June-2013.pdf)

    • In its new home at UCLA, SBAC is collaborating with something called the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST) and guess what? It is funded by some of the very same organizations that are getting contracts with SBAC (ETS, for example), as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (http://www.cse.ucla.edu/about/agencies.php)

    • From what I can find, UCLA’s education school is also enmeshed in the charter school movement. In fact, UCLA offers a certificate on Charter School Finance Policy and Administration! (https://www.uclaextension.edu/pages/ProgramDetails.aspx?reg=CF586) If I were even remotely cynical, I might ask myself who stands to benefit the most from a new standardized test for which it is projected that 60-70% of kids will fail? Might it be charter schools that can swoop in and offer “alternatives” to “failing” schools, where “failing” is measured by standardized tests?

    • Who the heck wrote the SBAC? Looks to me like ETS and McGraw Hill, which received (at least) a combined $82.6 million from the Consortium (that’s us!) for “test-item development” and other services. (http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/10/01/06contract.h34.html)

    SOMEBODY has got to connect all these dots and show that the SBAC, just like the PARCC, is a giveaway to profiteers, was NOT crafted by educators with the best interests of students in mind, and is another step toward taking the “public” out of public education.

    Thanks for your great work, Ms. Schneider. I look forward to the new book.

    Ursula Wolfe-Rocca Teacher, Portland, OR >

  5. From Pearson’s website

    (http://www.pearsonassessments.com/careers/test-development-job-opportunities.html)

    “Item Writers

    Item writers construct passages and/or develop test questions for educational assessments. A bachelor’s degree is preferred with experience in item writing, teaching, or developing state standards, curriculum, or tests or test-preparation activities. Opportunities exist in the following content areas:

    English Language Arts (Reading, Writing)
    Mathematics
    Science
    Social Studies”

    Bachelor’s degree preferred? So the whole testing accountability boondoggle is, we know, based on a house of cards, but even the cards are phony.

    And to complement Laura’s comment above, on the same page they are soliciting graders for the edTPA, which will determine who can teach.

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