Wednesday, July 24, 2013

States Dumping PARRC Is An ORCHESTRATED Event - NOT "STATE LED"!

I had to write this blog after receiving this letter to Superintendents from Georgia Superintendent John D. Barge, Ed.D.  I will add the exact link to the letter as soon as I am able to find it, but for now, I am copying the entirety of the letter here below, followed by the letter Janet Barresi sent to Superintendents in Oklahoma.

My thesis; Achieve has figured out Common Core opponents have a case for federal involvement in testing with the argument that PARCC received federal funding to create the tests and now the feds want to 'help' decide what will be on the tests.   

What's the best way to nullify the argument?  Have states leave PARCC and 'develop their own state standards'.   

Okay but who will they use for Common Core tests then?  McGraw Hill?  Pearson? Both companies are part of the Common Core machine - both SELL Common Core tests - both are private organizations not having received money from ARRA but that have massive lobbying efforts across the nation.  As I've said before; THIS IS A SHELL GAME and the American public is being played.  When you look at the letters from TWO SEPARATE state superintendents in TWO SEPARATE states and they are so similar you can pick out common themes and wording?  You have an orchestrated event, most probably from Achieve - which has an entire website called the Future Ready Project to help states 'sell' the standards.  States get pushback on the Core, and instead of governors and/or state superintendents meeting the arguments head on in their own states - locally - they go to Achieve to get propaganda to 'sell' their citizenry on their education 'reform' measures (Common Core/Testing/TLE).  The term "state led" is meant to mean "local", but as is obvious, Common Core is not a local phenomena, but a nationally coordinated event geared toward promulgating progressive education and crony capitalism by providing more clients for the private corporations pushing the standards.


Dear Superintendents,

Earlier today, I, along with Governor Deal and our State Board Chair, Barbara Hampton, advised the leadership of the PARCC Governing Board that the state of Georgia is withdrawing from the consortium and as such, we will not administer the PARCC assessments in 2014-2015. Georgia will be pursuing other options for developing our own state assessments in English language arts and math at the elementary, middle and high school levels.  We will continue to work with Georgia educators, as we have in the past, to reconfigure and/or redevelop our state assessments to reflect the instructional focus and expectations inherent in our rigorous state standards in language arts and math.  This is not a suspension of the implementation of the CCGPS in language arts and math.

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.  Relative to assessment, our paramount goal is to deliver high-quality instruments.  It is critical that these instruments provide key information about student learning and contribute to the ongoing work of improving the educational opportunities for each student. 

The Georgia Department of Education estimates that several million dollars in savings will be realized, annually, by developing our own assessments. The cost estimates for PARCC will be released later today, and these costs far exceed what Georgia can afford.

As we have discussed the technology requirements for PARCC, we have realized that a majority of our districts are not ready for full-scale, online assessments across all grades.  The state does not currently have the technology infrastructure or sufficient hardware to handle the test administration demands of PARCC, which include technology- enhanced test items.

While any new test Georgia develops will require greater capacity, allowing for online administration, we will be in the position to work with districts to establish the timeline.  This is important, as many districts need greater bandwidth, improved connectivity, and more devices (i.e., hardware) to handle not only assessment administration but day to day instructional requirements.

Developing our own assessments also will allow Georgia to determine the amount of time our students spend testing.  Based on current estimates, PARCC anticipates up to 10 hours of student engagement, through multiple test sessions conducted across two testing windows in language arts and mathematics alone.  I am optimistic that Georgia’s tests will require significantly less time for these two content areas, within a single window, and still provide high-quality information about student learning.

Finally, and arguably the most important consideration, adopting the PARCC assessment would limit the ability of Georgia to make adjustments or changes to our standards as we see fit.  If Georgia educators determine that certain standards need to be shifted or revised, we would run the risk of no longer being aligned with the PARCC assessment.  Such misalignment would put our students at a disadvantage. 

As we begin to build new assessments, please note that our Georgia assessments:
·         will be aligned to the math and English language arts CCGPS;
·         will be of 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 significantly less time to administer than the PARCC assessments;
·         will be administered within a single testing window;
·         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.

I am confident that Georgia can use the information learned from our involvement in PARCC as we develop new tests.  We are grateful to Georgia educators who have worked hard to help develop our standards and assessments.  We look forward to continuing to work with them to develop a new assessment system for our state.

As we continue to prepare our students to be college and career ready by the time they graduate from high school, I believe this approach will benefit them greatly.  As the work continues, I will keep you informed.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.  


John D. Barge, Ed.D.
State School Superintendent
Georgia Department of Education
2066 Twin Towers East
205 Jesse Hill Jr. Dr. SE
Atlanta, GA 30334
Ofc:  404-657-6165
Fax:  404-651-8737
Follow us on Twitter: @gadoenews and @drjohnbarge
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"Making Education Work for All Georgians"
Now, here is the letter written to Superintendents by Janet Barresi.  No, the wording is not exact - let's not split hairs - but please tell me that not only the formatting, but the message are NOT the same.

MEMORANDUM

TO: District Superintendents

FROM: State Superintendent Janet Barresi

DATE: July 1, 2013

RE: Issuing RFP to Develop Oklahoma Assessments in Math and English Language Arts

Last week, I advised the leadership of the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers) Governing Board that the state of Oklahoma will not be participating in the spring 2015 administration of the PARCC Assessment. Oklahoma will be issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to develop our own state assessments in English language arts and math for grades 3 through 8. We will work with our current testing vendor to align high school end-of-instruction exams to reflect the significant instructional shifts and the new rigorous state standards in English, math and social studies. I want to be clear; this is not a suspension of the implementation timeframe for the Oklahoma Academic Standards that include the Common Core State Standards for English and math.

After talking with and listening to district superintendents, teachers and parents, I believe this is the best decision for Oklahoma's children. Our first priority was to deliver a very high-quality assessment that would provide the type of information our teachers, administrators, parents, the legislature and the public need to continue to support ongoing work in improving educational opportunities for each child. In addition, developing our own assessments will reduce the amount of time children are testing, reduce the risk of technology problems and save money.

The State Department of Education estimates that upwards of $2 million a year in savings will be realized by developing our own assessments. The PARCC cost estimates for the exams will be released at a later date. Those cost estimates will not include formative assessments for teachers or multiple retakes of high school end-of-instruction exams. The Oklahoma assessments will include at least two formative assessments teachers may use on a voluntary basis each year and opportunities for students to retake the EOIs.

The Office of Instructional Technology conducted a speed test in April to determine our technology readiness. The study revealed 85 percent of the districts were not ready for online learning opportunities. The state does not currently have the technological infrastructure to handle the amount of time on task for students as well as the enhanced test items as required by PARCC.

These Oklahoma tests still will require students to fill in the blanks, drag and drop items, and manipulate objects on the screen, and this requires a higher level of technology. Many districts still need more bandwidth to handle these requirements, better connectivity and more devices for taking the examination. I am continuing to work with the governor and legislative leadership to find funding and viable options to increase technological capacity across the state.

The final reason for this decision is the time on task issue. As you know, the PARCC recommendations will call for up to 10 hours of student engagement on test items over two testing windows. Our RFP is calling for about half that amount over one window.

The 2014-2015 Oklahoma assessments:
• Will be aligned to the new math and English language arts Oklahoma Academic Standards that include the Common Core
Will be reviewed by Oklahoma teachers
Will require about half of the time on task as the PARCC assessments and will be administered over one testing window.
• Will be developed for students in grades 3 through 12 but only computerized for grades 6 through 12 as has been in the past
Will offer paper and pencil tests throughout the duration of the contract as opposed to PARCC only allowing paper and pencil for one year
• Will be high-quality and display the same rigor as well as the same type of test items as the PARCC exams are expected to have
Will have performance based items as well as some multiple choice, although fewer multiple choice items than in the past

Lastly, I am pleased the new testing vendor, when chosen, will be able to use the information we learned from participating in PARCC as we commission the new Oklahoma tests. We are grateful to the Oklahoma Educator Leader Cadre that has worked so hard to help prepare educators for the new standards and assessments. We will continue to work with them to support the development of the new Oklahoma assessments.

I look forward to going down this new road of developing Oklahoma assessments for Oklahoma children. As we continue to work to prepare our children to be college, career and citizen ready by the time they graduate, these new Oklahoma grown assessments will greatly benefit them.

As the RFP process continues, I will keep you informed. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you.

Janet C. Barresi