2014-2015 was the first year in which states rolled out Common Core aligned, value-added tests. These tests promised to be better at evaluating the real progress (or lack of progress) that students are making than previous tests because they would be computerized and therefore able to include more interactive types of questioning. Yes, the rollout would be tough because switching to the new Common Core standards and new tests would necessarily mean growing pains and lower scores the first few years. But Kentucky had already piloted this process, and that had gone well because they had done the hard work of reaching out to families to explain the situation. So SmarterBalanced and PARCC were hopeful.
And then the political unity that characterized the early days of Common Core crumbled. Individual states began to pull back from Common Core in various ways, and Common Core began to be branded as a national, liberal education agenda. So, now, in the summer after the first full year of Common Core aligned testing, the dust is settling some. And the reality for PARCC, if not SmarterBalanced, looks bleak.
To make a long story short, it looks that PARCC will go from 24 original members states plus D.C., to 10 states and D.C. actually administering tests this past school year, to probably 6 states and D.C. this coming year. That is not necessarily terrible news for PARCC because their running costs may diminish because they have already done much of the hard work of writing and getting the tests off the ground. But PARCC’s original estimates of the cost of the test per student were based on much higher numbers of states being involved than will be this coming year. This could mean costs will rise and more states will drop out.
If nothing else, it seems that PARCC will have to adapt to the changing times and keep hoping that there might be a resurgence of political support for Common Core.
For more information, including maps of specific states involved in the testing consortia, please visit: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/2015/07/parcc_common_core_testing_shifting_strategy_and_landscape.html?intc=mvs