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Does PARCC Still Consider Mitchell Chester the “Real” Chair?

February 12, 2016

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is playing around with information on its website in a manner that makes it appear that PARCC still considers Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, Mitchell Chester, its chair.

First of all, a recent revision on the Massachusetts PARCC page propagates the lie that Massachusetts fully administered the PARCC test in 2015 and will fully administer the PARCC test in 2016:

Here’s what PARCC has to say about Massachusetts:


Massachusetts administered the PARCC assessment in 2014-15 and will administer it in 2015-16. Massachusetts is a governing state.

In truth, not all Massachusetts districts administered PARCC in 2015, and as is true for Louisiana, Massachusetts will have a hybrid in 2016– part MCAS and part PARCC.

Still, in February 2016, PARCC is trying to make Massachusetts appear to be all in for PARCC, both in 2015 and 2016.

Even though Chester introduced a “compromise” between PARCC and MCAS, it sure looks bad for Chester– PARCC chair– to be pushing PARCC at all.

And it is possible that Chester’s “PARCC foot in the door”Massachusetts assessment compromise could be used as a means of virtually shutting out MCAS and indeed making Massachusetts “completely PARCC.”

If he wants to promote a quiet transition from MCAS to PARCC, surely it would be to Chester’s advantage to appear to relinquish chairing PARCC.

What is not to his advantage is for the PARCC website to imply that Massachusetts has and will be “all PARCC.”

What is also fishy is New Mexico Secretary of Education, Hanna Skandera, quietly being designated as PARCC chair around November 2015– right around the time that Massachusetts voted on its MCAS-PARCC hybrid— and without any press release on Chester moving out as PARCC chair and Skandera moving in.

Not one word.

But there’s even more fish in this market:

A February 9, 2016, press release on the PARCC website quotes Skandera at length without referring to her as PARCC chair– even though according to PARCC’s governing board page, she is indeed listed as chair (even though there, her role is also downplayed; her being chair is not featured on the page they way it was for Chester):

“Over the past five years, we’ve witnessed a remarkable achievement as the PARCC consortium has grown from what was essentially a start-up experiment into a world-class product that has been administered to 5 million students across 11 states plus the District of Columbia,” said Hanna Skandera, New Mexico Secretary of Education. “What we are doing now is preparing for the long-term future while we have the time to explore a variety of options. Our goal is to be prepared for the next phase of evolution in the testing landscape and give more states the opportunity to participate. These are the issues we will continue to explore openly and transparently in the coming weeks.” [Emphasis added.]

So, the question remains:

Is Skandera just a place holder for when Chester is able to jump back in as publicly-acknowledged PARCC chair?

From the manner in which PARCC is shaping its information release, it certainly seems so.

mitchell chester  Michell Chester, the “real” PARCC chair?


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?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    Weird, disgusting, and manipulative. I can verify that not all the schools here in Massachusetts tested students with PARCC. The school in which I taught, used PARCC Math and ELA but MCAS Science. We have a hybrid coming our way this year. Lord knows what that means…

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