Governor's Common Core Review council says state should withdraw from PARCC | Arkansas Blog

Monday, June 8, 2015

Governor's Common Core Review council says state should withdraw from PARCC

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2015 at 1:03 PM

click to enlarge TRADEMARKS APLENTY: Testing is big business, and ACT is expanding its market share. - DISCOVERACTASPIRE.ORG
  • discoveractaspire.org
  • TRADEMARKS APLENTY: Testing is big business, and ACT is expanding its market share.
The group set up by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to review the contentious issue of Common Core State Standards used in K-12 education has recommended that Arkansas stop using the new standardized test that was rolled out just this year.

Instead of PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), the current exam developed by a multi-state consortium, the Governor’s Council on Common Core Review recommends that Arkansas switch to a new test developed by the makers of the ACT. The new test is called the ACT Aspire.

"Governor Hutchinson has reviewed and accepted this recommendation and has asked the Arkansas Department of Education to begin taking the necessary steps for the transition to ACT and ACT Aspire. This recommendation comes at the request of the Governor due to timing and is the only recommendation by the Council until after the listening tour is complete," said Hutchinson's spokesperson, J.R. Davis, in a press release.

The governor's office also made the following statement: "To be clear, there is NO recommendation on the Common Core Standard at this time. The Council is still conducting its listening tour around the state. A recommendation will be made later this summer."

This is to be taken with a very large grain of salt. Yes, it is true that a switch in the test does not constitute a switch in standards; terminating the contract with PARCC does not mean Arkansas is withdrawing from Common Core. However, here's what the ACT's website says about the Aspire (emphasis added):

Our approach goes beyond other solutions because the ACT Aspire Assessment System will provide standards-based reporting — with reporting categories based on the ACT College Readiness Standards — and aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

In other words, the ACT Aspire was created to test students who have been educated with curriculum designed to meet Common Core State Standards. It's hard to imagine that we'd begin implementing a test aligned to Common Core, then nix the standards themselves only a few months later.

Leaving PARCC but immediately embracing another CCSS-aligned test suggests the truth of what we assumed all along: Common Core isn't going away anytime soon. Because of much parent dissatisfaction with the standards — mostly, but not exclusively, from the right — the public hearings will continue. It's possible some significant changes will be made, perhaps positive ones. It's even possible we might nominally move away from Common Core and make a show of adopting an "Arkansas solution" when it comes to standards. If we do that, though, whatever "alternative" standards are created simply can't be substantially different from Common Core — or else they'd be out of alignment with the ACT Aspire.

However, I'm not saying that leaving PARCC was a purely political move. Anecdotally, PARCC had a ton of problems. I've spoken with teachers in the past who think Common Core is fine but feel that the PARCC assessment was flawed. I don't know if the ACT Aspire is any better, but I also have no reason to think it's worse.

Again, the ACT-designed test is new. Previously, states that adopted Common Core standards could either use PARCC or an alternative consortium called Smarter Balanced

Here's the full press release from the Governor's office, followed by one from Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who heads the Council on Common Core Review:

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has received the first recommendation from the Governor’s Council on Common Core Review regarding testing in Arkansas. Governor Hutchinson has reviewed and accepted this recommendation and has asked the Arkansas Department of Education to begin taking the necessary steps for the transition to ACT and ACT Aspire. This recommendation comes at the request of the Governor due to timing and is the only recommendation by the Council until after the listening tour is complete.

Governor Hutchinson released the following statement:

“I have accepted the recommendation of the Common Core Review Council that the state leave PARCC and use the ACT and ACT Aspire, pending state Board of Education approval and a contract agreement with ACT and ACT Aspire.”

The Council recommended the move for various reasons, including: the national recognition of ACT; the comparability between states; the minimal time spent testing relative to PARCC (about half the time of PARCC); and the ACT’s relevance to students.

The General Assembly endorsed the use of the ACT and ACT Aspire assessments by the passage of Act 989, and the Governor’s office believes this transition is in keeping with the spirit of that legislation. To be clear, there is NO recommendation on the Common Core Standard at this time. The Council is still conducting its listening tour around the state. A recommendation will be made later this summer.

For more on the Governor’s Council on Common Core Review, please visit the Common Core Review page on the Governor’s website.

(CONTACT: J.R. Davis, JR.Davis@governor.arkansas.gov or 501.353.5297)
 
From Griffin's office: 

LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statement after Governor Hutchinson announced that the state will end the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test and replace it with a test prepared by American College Testing (ACT):

“When the governor formed his Council on Common Core Review, he requested the Council’s initial recommendations in early summer. Time is of the essence for the governor and the Arkansas Department of Education, especially regarding testing, due to time constraints on contracting. As a result, the Council provided an expedited recommendation to the governor solely on the issue of testing and voted to end the PARCC test and replace it with a test prepared by ACT.”

“Over the next two weeks, we have three more stops on the listening tour—Batesville, Pine Bluff and Fort Smith—where we will continue to listen to and consider the perspectives of Arkansans. Upon conclusion of the listening tour, we will prepare our final findings and recommendations for the governor.”

The Council recommended using a test prepared by ACT for various reasons, including: the national recognition of ACT; the comparability between states; the minimal time spent testing relative to PARCC (about half the time of PARCC); and the ACT’s relevance to students.

MAX INTERJECTS A QUESTION: Will the state Board of Education issue school report cards and judge pass/fail status of schools on the basis of scores on a test that has been junked?

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