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Diane Ravitch's Blog: Georgia Withdraws from PARCC Testing Consortium

The U.S. Department of Education is prohibited by law from interfering in curriculum, but Secretary Duncan was itching to get the Common Core standards adopted. First, he said that states would not be eligible for a share of $5 billion in federal stimulus funds unless they adopted common college-and-career-readiness standards. Wink, wink, almost every state agreed to adopt the Common Core.

Then the Secretary awarded $350 million to two consortia for the purpose of developing tests of the Common Core (which of course he had nothing to do with).

Last, he offered waivers from the absurd requirements of NCLB but only for states that went along with Common Core.

Not so fast: some parents are in revolt against the deluged testing, and some states don’t have the technology and can’t pay the heavy costs.

Georgia just dropped out of the PARCC consortium. Below are the stated reasons:

July 22, 2013 – State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge and Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Georgia is withdrawing from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test development consortium.

Instead, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) will work with educators across the state to create standardized tests aligned to Georgia’s current academic standards in mathematics and English language arts for elementary, middle and high school students. Additionally, Georgia will seek opportunities to collaborate with other states.

Creating the tests in Georgia will ensure that the state maintains control over its academic standards and student testing, whereas a common assessment would have prevented GaDOE from being able to adjust and rewrite Georgia’s standards when educators indicate revisions are needed to best serve students.

“After talking with district superintendents, administrators, teachers, parents, lawmakers and members of many communities, I believe this is the best decision for Georgia’s students,” Superintendent Barge said. “We must ensure that our assessments provide educators with critical information about student learning and contribute to the work of improving educational opportunities for every student.”

Georgiawas one of 22 states to join PARCC several years ago with the aim of developing next generation student assessments in mathematics and English language arts by 2014-15.

“Assessing our students’ academic performance remains a critical need to ensure that young Georgians can compete on equal footing with their peers throughout the country,” Gov. Deal said. “Georgia can create an equally rigorous measurement without the high costs associated with this particular test. Just as we do in all other branches of state government, we can create better value for taxpayers while maintaining the same level of quality.”

Superintendent Barge was one of the state school chiefs serving on the governing board for the consortium, but he frequently voiced concerns about the cost of the PARCC assessments. The PARCC assessments in English language arts and math are estimated to cost significantly more money than Georgia currently spends on its entire testing program.

Superintendent Barge also expressed concerns over the technology requirements for PARCC’s online tests. Many Georgia school districts do not have the needed equipment or bandwidth to handle administering the PARCC assessments.

As GaDOE begins to build new assessments, please note that our Georgia assessments:
· will be aligned to the math and English language arts state standards;
· will be high-quality and rigorous;
· will be developed for students in grades 3 through 8 and high school;
· will be reviewed by Georgia teachers;
· will require less time to administer than the PARCC assessments;
· will be offered in both computer- and paper-based formats; and
· will include a variety of item types, such as performance-based and multiple-choice items.

“We are grateful to Georgia educators who have worked hard to help develop our standards and assessments,” Superintendent Barge said. “We look forward to continuing to work with them to develop a new assessment system for our state.”

Matt Cardoza
Director of Communications
Georgia Department of Education
2062 Twin Towers East
205 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE
Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 651-7358

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Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. She is the Co-Founder and President of the Network for Publi...