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The PARCC Race to the Top Contract and Its 26 State MOUs

July 30, 2015

When the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) applied for Race to the Top (RTTT) funding on June 30, 2010, it submitted this 1,609-page application.

The Executive Summary (pages 7 and 8) is an enlightening read. Apparently, PARCC planned to be the indispensable vehicle for translating the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) into well-measured reality in classrooms nationwide.

Here is an excerpt from the PARCC-centric fairy tale:

Leverage technology for innovation, cost efficiency and speed. The Partnership will administer a streamlined computer-based assessment with innovative item types near the end of the school year, enabling annual combined results from the through-course and end-of-year components to be reported back quickly enough to include information about progress toward college and career readiness on every student’s report card. …

The common assessment system will help make accountability policies better drivers of improvement. States that consider the results from common assessments for school accountability determinations and for teacher and principal evaluations will signal the kinds of good instructional practices that will meet the CCR (college and career ready) standards.

And, my personal favorite:

Teachers will have an assessment system that provides as much for them as it asks from them. Teachers will be able to focus their instruction on clear targets rather than guessing which standards the tests might cover, and those targets will represent meaningful progress toward an evidence-based standard of college and career readiness. The Partnership will also provide teachers with an array of training tools to use the assessment results to inform instructional planning and better understand what CCR student performance looks like.

The remainder of pages 7 and 8 are worth reading if only for the humor they provide in light of PARCC’s falling apart.

PARCC began with 25 states and DC. My primary purpose in writing this post is to let readers know that the PARCC RTTT application includes the memoranda of understanding (MOUs) for all 25 original PARCC states and DC.

Below is a list of the original PARCC states as well as the chronological page number on which each PARCC MOU begins:

Alabama, 384

Arizona, 409

Arkansas, 435

California, 459

Colorado, 483

Delaware, 506

DC, 530

Florida, 554

Georgia, 580 (Note: Georgia’s last page is on page 605; it is turned upside down and actually follows Illinois’ first page.)

Illinois, 604 (Note: Interrupted by Georgia’s last page on 605, Illinois’ second page continues on 606.)

Indiana, 628

Kentucky, 653

Louisiana, 678

Maryland, 702

Massachusetts, 726 (Note: MA also includes a letter of clarification on page 752.)

Mississippi, 753

New Hampshire, 777

New Jersey, 801

New York, 827

North Dakota, 851

Ohio, 876

Oklahoma, 900

Pennsylvania, 925

Rhode Island, 950

South Carolina, 974

Tennessee, 998

One of the conditions of the PARCC MOU is that governing states “must be committed to statewide implementation and administration of the assessment system developed by the Consortium no later than the 2014-15 school year, subject to availability of funds.”

That rules out Massachusetts and New York.

PARCC finally dropped New York from its list of PARCC states, but Massachusetts continues on the list as running the show (MA Commissioner Mitchell Chester is the PARCC governing board chair.) PARCC also dropped the term “governing” from this page. This page is now named the “participating states” page.

From its new, separate, governing board page, PARCC finally dropped Louisiana, Mississippi, and New York, and it dropped recent exiting states, Arkansas and Ohio.

So, PARCC is down to seven governing states (CO, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NM, and RI) and DC.

According to the PARCC MOU, PARCC must retain five governing states in order to exist:

This MOU may be terminated by decision of the Governing Board, or by withdrawal or termination of a sufficient number of Governing States so that there are fewer than five Governing States.

You see– and I write this with a splash of irony– even the PARCC MOU has an opt out clause:

Membership Opt-Out Process

At any time, a State may withdraw from the Consortium by providing written notice to the chair of the Governing Board, signed by the individuals holding the same positions that signed the MOU, at least ten (10) days prior to the effective date of the withdrawal, including an explanation of reasons for the withdrawal.

In order to exist, PARCC must retain five governing states (DC is counted as a state).

In June 2010, 25 states and DC hitched their CCSS-assessment wagons to PARCC. By June 2015, PARCC is down to 6 states and DC that seem certain to administer complete PARCC tests in 2015-16:

Colorado, DC, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. Massachusetts has yet to decide.

It seems that the most attractive component of the PARCC MOU is its opt-out provision.

dear john 2


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 a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, newly published on June 12, 2015.

both books

  1. LAEducator permalink

    How gratifying & wonderful for students & teachers that PARCC has fallen apart. Guess the original investors – whoever they are – don’t quite know what hit them. If memory serves InBloom came crashing down in a similar way when their darkest desires were revealed to the public. Thanks, Mercedes.

  2. So the recent recommendation to sell your Pearson shares is well founded !

    • Laura H. Chapman permalink

      “At any time, a State may withdraw from the Consortium by providing written notice to the chair of the Governing Board, signed by the individuals holding the same positions that signed the MOU, at least ten (10) days prior to the effective date of the withdrawal, including an explanation of reasons for the withdrawal.”

      Wonder. The MOU signers included the governor of the state and the chief education officer. Suppose that these persons were no longer in office, had died, or were incapacitated…and the new political regime wanted out, or one of the two signers wanted out and the other refused.

      That provision in the MOU sounds to me like amateur hour in the legalese, in addition to the fact that the document is rambly and asks for committments to products and services that were not yet available for inspection. No need to reply, just an observation.

      Have your book, my second, and look forward to the next.

  3. Massachusetts Commissioner of Education/Chair of the PARCC governing board refuses to
    admit to a clear conflict of interests in decision to continue with MCAS or adopt PARCC statewide.
    Recent blog post claimed that he has the approval of the state ethics committee – given the history
    in this neck of the woods, it wouldn’t surprise me.

  4. Bruce Hunter permalink

    This is the best summary I have found on the state of the over testing craze. Well done. I could feel the problems emerge starting in 2013 when visiting with state superintendent associations. I told some folks who are close to secretary Duncan what was happening and they could not believe it. Superintendents know achievement tests for what they are and have lost confidence if the tests are used for purposes they were not designed.

  5. Is there no MOU for New Mexico in this document?

  6. anne permalink

    PARCC is one of two consortiums; SBAC the other. Same CC, difference in the “business”. Finding information from Goals 2000 or SCANS which point to creation of these two consortiums, instead of one CC national curriculum which is illegal as per the Constitution, even more so that the illegal PARCC and SPAC interstate entities, would be the needle in the haystack to find..

  7. Oops! Left off the NM PED/Pearson PARCC contract in my reply. Here it is:

  8. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    Thank you so much for the update and clarification on what it will take to put PARCC out of business. We are trying hard in MA but, as you mention, it is difficult with MA Commissioner Mitchell Chester who is also the PARCC governing board chair!

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