PARCC Changes Info on Its “States” Page to Encourage Other “Assessment Solutions”
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.
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:
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.
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.
“Next generation” embarrassing.
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.