Hanna Skandera Is Now PARCC Chair. There Was No Press Release.
At some point in November 2015, it seems that New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera replaced Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester as the floundering, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) governing chair.
Even the PARCC website includes no press release concerning the Skandera-Chester switch. However, one press release, dated November 12, 2015, and entitled, “PARCC Introduces New Testing Options for More States,” hints that the switch was coming:
States that make up the Governing Board of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) are expanding their offering in to allow more states to participate in the nations premiere assessment system.
Hanna Skandera, New Mexico Secretary of Education, speaking on behalf of the PARCC Governing Board said, “The states worked together to develop the highest-quality test the country has ever had. We now want to ensure that as many educators and students as possible can benefit from the work we’ve done.” [Emphasis added.]
The timing of the PARCC announcement about “new options for accessing high quality testing items” is noteworthy. That same day– November 12, 2015– Chester officially announced his proposal that Massachusetts create a MCAS-PARCC hybrid (as opposed to adopting PARCC and ditching MCAS, which was a bit conflict-of-interest touchy given that he was uh, the chair of the PARCC governing board).
Even though Chester began promoting the MCAS-PARCC hybrid on October 20, 2015, his “official” proposal was announced only five days before the Massachusetts board of ed voted to approve the hybrid on November 17, 2015.
Thus, what did not happen was that Chester did not deliver Massachusetts over completely to PARCC, and however the details of Chester’s exit played out, PARCC decided not to contribute to the fanfare and instead quietly slid Skandera into the position of chair.
Even the PARCC governing board page does not notably announce Skandera as chair. Here is the archived page with Chester as chair:
And here is the current page with Skandera as chair:
Not as much fanfare.
Still, in the press releases it does offer, PARCC is trying to portray the image of success in how it shapes the language of its deciding to become an item vendor out of desperation to survive. Its most recent press release, dated November 13, 2015, is entitled, “Louisiana to Use PARCC Content in This Year’s State Assessment.” What is comical is that last year’s state assessment in Louisiana is still a mystery as far as exactly how the supposed PARCC items were procured, as well as the degree to which those items represent items on PARCC tests that were vended by Pearson (Louisiana’s tests were vended in haphazard fashion using a testing contract meant to deliver assessments in the transition to PARCC.) But in its November 13, 2015, press release, PARCC announces that Louisiana will be using almost half of its spring 2016 test items from PARCC.
What the press release does not mention is that in May 2015, the Louisiana legislature put a cap on the portion of PARCC items allowed on the 2016 tests. That cap was 49 percent.
As for the announcement that Louisiana will use Data Recognition Corp (DRC) for its 2016 tests: Louisiana has used DRC for years– and it used DRC for its mystery PARCC tests in 2015.
Still, PARCC nonprofit CEO Laura Slover publicly celebrates the legislated cap as though it is some unexpected gain for PARCC:
The Louisiana Department of Education will use PARCC content in its statewide assessment during the 2015-16 school year. Louisiana has awarded a contract to Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) to develop its statewide tests. PARCC items will comprise just under half of the test content.
“It is great that Louisiana recognizes the value of the PARCC content, which we believe is the highest quality in the country,” said Laura Slover, Chief Executive Officer at Parcc Inc., the nonprofit organization that manages the consortium. “PARCC governing states have led the development of the content over the last five years. And we are now offering states the flexibility they’ve asked for in order to expand participation to as many educators and students as possible. Our goal has always been to improve instruction and assessments for all students, so they can reach their fullest potential.”
In other words, PARCC is approaching ghost-town status, and vending items is a grasp at a continued existence.
As for the PARCC states listing, that page continues to live in the world of 2014-15. It has not been updated, for example, to indicate that Mississippi exited PARCC in January 2015, with no plan to use PARCC in 2015-16. And, of course, even though Massachusetts and Louisiana are still listed as PARCC states, they are only item-vended PARCC states at this point.
Note also that the PARCC press releases page offers nothing more current than the November 13, 2015, Louisiana story– not even the November 17, 2015, announcement of Massachusetts’ MCAS-PARCC hybrid.
I guess some steps backward are just too awkward to announce.
The PARCC press release page has no December press releases, and no January press releases as of January 19, 2016.
See the tumbleweeds roll across the lifeless, dusty road.