An Open Letter to PARCC CEO Laura Slover
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.
Mercedes K. Schneider, Ph.D.
Coming June 24, 2016, from TC Press: