PARCC has announced that it will now offer states the option of buying parts of its testing system and choosing their own vendor. Previously, states could purchase only the entire system, and they had to use Pearson for test administration.
This announcement comes as testing plans for 2015-16 show a dwindling number of states using PARCC’s assessment. A new analysis by the Education Commission of the States lists only six states and the District of Columbia as planning to use PARCC this school year. Eleven states and the District of Columbia used it in 2014-15. (The ECS analysis doesn’t mention a new PARCC member, the Department of Defense schools, with 74,000 students.) Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ohio, which used PARCC last year, are not doing so this year.
New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera, a member of PARCC’s governing board, said in an interview that PARCC had made the change in response to feedback from states that have been asking for more options. They timed the new choices so that states could consider them as they enter the procurement cycle for assessments for 2016-17, she said.
PARCC Chief Executive Officer Laura Slover said it is ready to respond to that interest by providing different tiers of participation and opportunities for customization. The new tiered structure will allow states several ways of using PARCC. They can use the entire system with Pearson as test administrator, or customize it by adding their own test questions. They can use the PARCC blueprint and test content, but choose their own vendor to administer it. They could also choose to buy test questions from a “freestanding” item bank.
States can also buy “blocks” of test items, giving them the ability to design their own tests with PARCC questions. PARCC officials said that states would still be able to compare their results to those of other states on those blocks of items, but presumably would be unable to do so on other items in the test. States that use the “block” approach could use their own vendor to give the test, but would have to adhere to PARCC guidelines for test administration.
The graphic below from Education Week provides a look at the different options:
For more information, read the full Education Week article.