Arkansas Shuts Door on PARCC

arkansas-state-flagThe Arkansas House originally passed a bill that would pull the state out of PARCC.  The Arkansas Senate amended that bill to delay PARCC’s use, but still left the door open to use it.   Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson effectively slammed the door shut.

Hutchinson launched a council on Common Core Review.  The council is still completing a “listening tour,” but submitted their first recommendation because of timing.  The recommended that Arkansas withdraw from PARCC and instead use ACT Aspire for grades 3-10 and ACT for 11th graders.

“I have accepted the recommendation of the Common Core Review Council that the state leave PARCC and use the ACT and ACT Aspire, pending state Board of Education approval and a contract agreement with ACT and ACT Aspire,” Hutchinson said in a released statement.

The Arkansas Legislature endorsed the use of the ACT and ACT Aspire assessments by the passage of Act 989, and the Governor’s office believes this transition is in keeping with the spirit of that legislation.

What I’m unclear of is why this pending state board of education approval?  The state board of education can overrule Governor and Legislature?  That seems unlikely to me, and perhaps it is just a formality, but it is something we’ll watch.

Regarding the ACT Aspire exam itself – it is the Common Core-aligned assessment created by ACT.  Alabama is the first state to adopt it.  ACT’s college entrance exam which will be used for high school juniors is not currently aligned to the Common Core.  So this is not a repeal, but it is a shift away from an assessment consortia that has been federally funded.  Also ACT does not have the memorandum of understanding with the Federal government regarding student level data like PARCC does.  So there are some positives with this move even if the fight against Common Core is not finished.

The downside is that ACT Aspire will also involve social emotional testing.  EdWeek reported back in 2012:

The assessment would look beyond academics to get a complete picture of the whole student, he says. There would be interest inventories for students, as well as assessment of behavioral skills for students and teachers to evaluate.

As with PARCC we recommend that parents refuse ACT Aspire as well.  On the bright side however PARCC is also one step closer to a collapse.

The review council will release further recommendations regarding the Common Core State Standards themselves later this summer.