In Attempting to Save Itself, PARCC Now Offers “Testing Options”
The whole point of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) was to standardize American public education (and any private education entities that would buy in) for some supposed, fantastic sameness that would allow state-to-state comparisons on accompanying CCSS consortium-developed, “next generation” assessments.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is one of two federally-funded testing consortia supposed to allow state-to-state comparisons of test results related to the CCSS that was *adopted* by most states.
But PARCC is crumbling fast, and the PARCC consortium is working to reinvent itself as a vendor of PARCC testing “options.”
For the 2015-16 school year, only DC and six states (Colorado, New Jersey, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Illinois) are clearly committed to the comprehensive, Pearson-vended PARCC assessments as of this writing.
Thus, in order to survive, PARCC had to offer to sell itself off in parts– which defeats the entire point of a testing consortium tied to “common” standards. Nevertheless, here is what PARCC is offering as of November 12, 2015:
New Participation Options
State Education leaders that make up the Governing Board of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) are giving new options for all states to access high quality assessments.
The Partnership states are providing a tiered approach for the 2016-17 school year that will allow any state or other educational entities to have access to the PARCC assessments at varying levels of participation. More details on the new tiered approach will be available soon.
The PARCC “tiered approach” has two tiers with two plans per tier.
Gotta drum up PARCC business somehow.
PARCC advertises its desperate effort to survive as “Expanded Opportunities for States to Access PARCC Items and Blueprints.”
Tier 1 involves administering the entire PARCC test. Now, there is a “Tier 1A” option of using the official PARCC vendor, Pearson, or of ditching Pearson in favor of “autonomy to procure test vendor” (named Tier 1B).
Tier 1 comes with the state-to-state, result comparability caution:
Note: Tier 1B states must adhere to Tier 1A procedures to make consistent comparability claims.
When the disclaimers come, the commonality is no more.
Next comes the a la carte Tier 2 option, which entails “access to an item bank of field-tested, common core aligned multiple choice, short answer, constructed response, and extended response questions” and “ability to purchase questions as coherent sets of test content, that address specific reporting categories, clusters of standards, etc., or on an individual item basis.”
Tier 2A differs from Tier 2B in the disclaimers regarding testing outcome comparisons. For Tier 2A, the disclaimer is, “ability to make comparison claims is dependent on the set of items purchased and states adherence to test administration guidelines and scoring criteria.”
For Tier 2B, comparisons are a no-no: “Would not be designed for comparison claims to be made.”
All that these expanded options mean is that PARCC has forfeited its original purpose of being “common assessments.” However, what will still happen is that the media will see the “PARCC” label on a state’s assessments, and it will produce articles comparing “PARCC” results across states, contributing to the twisted narrative of state testing outcome “competition.”
PARCC has failed, and this “expanded opportunities” effort is a precariously-propped card house waiting for a good wind.