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An Open Letter to PARCC CEO Laura Slover

May 15, 2016

Dear Mrs. Slover:

My name is Mercedes Schneider. I am a Louisiana public school teacher, blogger, researcher, and author. On May 13, 2016,  I posted on my blog a copy of the email that you sent to professor Celia Oyler circa May 12, 2016, regarding a post on her blog, one written by an anonymous teacher and including three “live” questions from PARCC’s 2016 grade 4 exam.

In this open letter, I have a few requests of you. If you choose to respond, please do so in the comments section of this post. I will repost any complete and unedited response(s) from you and/or your designee as its own new post. (For any designee response, please title and affiliation of designee.)

First of all, in your email to Oyler, you note that Oyler’s posting the three “live” items “threatens the utility of the assessments… in versions of the assessment to be administered in the future.” I am seeking clarification of this statement. It seems that it would be easy to simply consider the items as released items in the same way that you note PARCC has released over 800 questions from the spring 2015 administration. How is the current release a “future threat” to “assessment utility”?

Next, I noticed that there were a number of days that passed between Oyler’s original, May 07, 2016, post, and your/PARCC’s awareness of it. It seems that what really brought the matter to your attention was Diane Ravitch’s May 10, 2016, reposting of Oyler’s piece as well as Leonie Haimson’s sharing Oyler’s piece on Twitter (Haimson received notification from Twitter about the issue on May 12, 2016). I noticed that you follow both Ravitch and Haimson on Twitter and that your latest “follow” addition on Twitter (as of May 14, 2016) was Celia Oyler. Given that you must anticipate that at least someone will openly discuss PARCC tests during the PARCC testing window, I am wondering if the way that you as PARCC CEO are monitoring social media is simply by doing it yourself. Please comment.

Also, given that the threats to PARCC security posed by social media will be with you in the future, have you, as CEO of a major testing enterprise, considered and do you currently have in place strategies for effectively ridding “live” tests of publicized questions? This would seem imperative to have in place, especially given the high-stakes nature of your enterprise and the growing public dislike for standardized testing, including consortium-arranged standardized testing.

Another question: I find it unusual that you would send Oyler an email yourself as opposed to having an attorney draft it. Feel free to comment on this.

Finally, in your email to Oyler, you note that “every PARCC question and every reading passage has been reviewed in confidence by educators from across the country who sign off on their quality and appropriateness.” Thus, for the three “live” items in question, I respectfully ask that you or your designee provide the following information:

  • The name(s), credentials, and affiliations for the creators of each of the three items, including any past or current affiliation with any and all testing companies, testing consortia, or testing nonprofits. If the individual(s) was paid for item creation, please include names of payer(s), amount of remuneration and description of services rendered. Please also clearly include an explanation of why this individual(s) is qualified to develop each question, with particular attention to reading passage selection.
  • The name(s), credentials, and affiliations for the reviewers of each of the three items, including any past or current affiliation with any and all testing companies, testing consortia, or testing nonprofits. If the individual(s) was paid for item selection/review, please include names of payer(s), amount of remuneration and description of services rendered. Please also clearly include an explanation of why this individual(s) is qualified to select and/or review each question, with particular attention to reading passage selection.

The above can be accomplished without divulging details of the items themselves; simply referring to them as “E,” “G,” and “S,” respectively, will do.

I thank you for your time and look forward to your response.

Yours truly,

Mercedes K. Schneider, Ph.D.

PARCC2  slover small  Laura Slover


Coming June 24, 2016, from TC Press:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Stay tuned.



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. Zorba permalink

    I love this, Mercedes! Keep us posted on any response you get.

  2. leonie haimson permalink

    I would add this question to Slover: Under what legal authority do you claim the right to censor the blog claiming copyright infringements or demand to be told the identity of the person who wrote about the exam? Considering the fact that this individual only quoted a few questions, this could easily be interpreted as falling under the “Fair Use” doctrine under the copyright law.

    See this: “In its most general sense, a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner.”

    If you are commenting upon or critiquing a copyrighted work — for instance, writing a book review — fair use principles allow you to reproduce some of the work to achieve your purposes. Some examples of commentary and criticism include:

    quoting a few lines from a Bob Dylan song in a music review
    summarizing and quoting from a medical article on prostate cancer in a news report
    copying a few paragraphs from a news article for use by a teacher or student in a lesson, or
    copying a portion of a Sports Illustrated magazine article for use in a related court case.

    The underlying rationale of this rule is that the public reaps benefits from your review, which is enhanced by including some of the copyrighted material.
    – See more at:

  3. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Excellent questions, especially because PARCC owes its existence to taxpayer funds. I am interested in the response as a taxpayer, and also as a former consultant for NAEP, ETS, and as a reviewer of several tests for ETS and Buros Mental Measurements Yearbooks.

  4. PARCC, keep doing what you’re doing. Such reveals about your actual sick, sleazy practices will wake everyone up from their slumber of trust that much faster. Also, 2 statements from “Test questions are owned by the PARCC states, which must protect their investment and the integrity and validity of their tests.”
    And “Does Pearson punish a student who violates test security by talking about a test question from a “live” test on Facebook or Twitter? Absolutely not. It is important to note in the event of a security breach that any contact with or decisions about consequences for the individuals involved are handled by the state(s) and local school district (s).”

  5. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    Great questions. Thank you!

  6. Harlan Underhill permalink

    Heh, heh, heh. That’ll do it.

  7. Beth Pavkov permalink

    I just finished reading your letter and thought to myself: What a smart woman. Glad you’re on our side, and thank you, Dr. Schneider. I look forward to reading her response.

  8. Phenomenal! I wait on pins and needles for the response! Reposting this on

  9. Jake J permalink

    HOUSE OF CARDS: Standardized testing in the digital age is so vulnerable it should be discontinued forthwith.

    This whole system is secure only by the honor system. Today, a rogue teacher, admin or student could upload a test to the Internet and share it with the world in minutes.

    How can we sink hundreds of millions into something so easily compromised? Indeed, the greed of profiteers looking to mass-scale shortcuts and automate education will be their undoing.

  10. Christine Langhoff permalink

    Mercedes Schneider: simply the best!

  11. Now that a number of bloggers have re-posted Oyler’s original blog, and plenty more have re-Tweeted those posts, it’s got t be a lot harder for PARCC to keep track of all the postings. I had one Tweet removed early on, but I suspect a “critical mass” on social media now.

    I’d be surprised if you got a response, but will watch this space anyway….just in case!

  12. ddermady permalink

    Thank you very much to those who daily fight for our educational process in NY State so that our children are provided with the best opportunities. We all know our children and our teachers are much more than a test score. Pearson needs to realize no company or group can keep going about their business thinking children (and teachers) are their robots in a billionaire scheme. Enough is enough.

  13. permalink

    Excellent! I’d also like the validity & reliability info and something about grade level appropriateness. Small potatoes though compared to the meat you’re going after. Well done & thank you!!


  14. Mercedes…once again you cut to the core “Core” of the situation. Great questions for Slover.

  15. Thank you for writing the letter.

  16. Linda permalink

    I’m curious if Mercedes, Diane, Peter Greene or Anthony Cody have been invited to Aspen’s “Senior Congressional Education Staff Network” (Gates funded). It was “structured as a safe place for staffers to explore the implications of federal policy…querying educators and other experts…”
    Ironically, an employee of a different Gates-funded organization wrote, “…reformers…declare ‘We’ve got to blow up the ed schools.’ ” It seems like the people, opposed to the richest 0.1%’s, “human capital pipelines”, are more in need of THE “safe place”.
    The “Network” website claims it’s non-ideological. I thought privatization of common goods was ideological. Is that the intent of the “safe place”, to shield staffers, from constituents who know Martin Gillens was right when his research showed Congress doesn’t listen to 90% of the population?

    Is the “safe place” cushy? Which staffers feel at home and frequently visit their Gates-funded “safe place?”

  17. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a response.

    • Zorba permalink

      Sadly, I won’t be holding my breath, either. 😦

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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