Fourteen states and the District of Columbia announced today they are committed to field testing the next-generation PARCC assessments in the upcoming 2013-14 school year, a key step in building a high-quality assessment system that will be rolled out broadly in schools during the following academic year. The states participating in the field tests are Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee.
Field testing will help PARCC create strong assessments with high-quality questions that are free of bias and challenge students working at all performance levels. Accommodations will also be employed and studied through the field test.
Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah A. Gist said PARCC assessments would be tests worth taking. "Quality has been the key issue for us from the very beginning," Gist said. "We weren't interested in moving to another assessment unless there was going to be a tremendous focus on quality." Added Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman, "These are assessments that are going to match the level of rigor of the Common Core State Standards."
Not all students in a participating state take field tests. Generally just about 10 percent of students in tested grades and subjects will participate across PARCC states; most of those students will only take a portion of the tests. The PARCC field tests will not generate student scores. The PARCC field tests will be in administered in March-May 2014.
PARCC has formally amended its grant for Race to the Top funding to fully operate as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with its own funding, board of directors, staff and programs. The state consortium began as a collaborative of states working together, with support from the non-profit Achieve, which has served as project management partner; this change to an independent 501 (c) (3) will give PARCC the long-term sustainable architecture to support states in the operations of the assessment system and to continue strengthening the assessment system through research, item development and other tasks.
"PARCC is really developed by the states for the states," Colorado Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond said during Monday's call with reporters. "The bottom line is we're working together to create the highest quality assessments in the history of American public education." The state chiefs noted that by working together PARCC was keeping quality up and costs down. Added Hanna Skandera, Secretary of Education for New Mexico, "We believe in having the best of the best for our kids. We are stronger together than we are as individuals."
PARCC also announced progress on several key fronts:
- Ten states conducted small-scale item tryouts with several thousand students in spring and summer 2013, including Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York.
- PARCC, in partnership with its item development contractors, is on-track to complete its first phase of item development - construction and review of test items prior to field testing - by the end of August 2013.
- Hundreds of K-16 educators from across PARCC states are meeting in Orlando, Florida, this week to complete a review of PARCC items in preparation for construction of the field test.
- In June, the PARCC Governing Board and Advisory Committee on College Readiness approved performance-level descriptors for the PARCC assessments in ELA/literacy and mathematics. Performance levels, sometimes referred to as "achievement levels," are the broad categories used to report student performance on an assessment, and the PLDs describe what that performance means.
- Last week, PARCC released the first edition of the PARCC Accessibility and Accommodations Manual, along with tools for parents and students. The release of the manual is an important step in meeting PARCC's commitment to accessibility for all students, especially students with disabilities, English learners and English learners with disabilities, and for meeting the timelines for a 2014 - 2015 assessment administration.
- Also last week, teams of higher education leaders from 15 states met in New Orleans, Louisiana, to develop action plans for their state's adoption and implementation of the PARCC College- and Career-Ready Determination as an instrument for placing students directly into college credit-bearing courses. Higher education leadership is a hallmark of PARCC.
- Thousands of K-16 educators from across the PARCC states are working through their state Educator Leader Cadres to prepare for classroom implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the transition to PARCC assessments.
For more information, visit www.parcconline.org