Arkansas State School Chief’s Mea Culpa on PARCC Test Scores

arkansas flagArkansas last week released its PARCC scores and they appeared to have defined proficiency at a lower level than what PARCC has defined. They decided to deem level 3 as proficient, that a student is college and career ready, when PARCC defined level 4 as proficient out of five performance levels.

The statement last week read, “The State Board of Education approved the score ranges for each of the five reporting categories as established by the PARCC consortium. For Arkansas schools, students scoring at levels 3 and above are considered on track for college and career readiness. Students scoring at levels 1 and 2 will need interventions to move toward college and career readiness.”

Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key added, “Across the state educators are working diligently to provide authentic learning experiences that reflect the rigor needed to be college and career ready, and I commend the hard work of these dedicated professionals. For Arkansas to succeed in educational attainment and economic development, all parents, students and communities must engage in conversations about college and career readiness. It is my hope that the results of these assessments will prompt such conversations throughout the state.”

The world of educrats exploded… So Key released the following statement on Tuesday:

Upon review of the communication regarding the release of scores from the PARCC assessment, it is apparent that we used language that left a misleading impression that Arkansas was backing away from high standards. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the action taken by the State Board of Education on Thursday was adoption of the cut scores for the high school level assessments as recommended by the PARCC states.

Any assertion that Arkansas has adopted Level 3 as demonstrating proficiency is inaccurate. We fully embrace the higher level of expectations reflected in our standards and our assessment system, as these are critical components of advancing our K-12 education along the path to excellence.

Our description of Level 3 and above as reflecting students being “on track for college and career readiness” was in error. We should have then, as we will from this point forward, used the actual descriptions from PARCC to accurately reflect the performance of students at Level 3 as approaching academic expectations for college and career readiness.

To assist parents in understanding the PARCC results, we have prepared the letter below that explains the levels and what they mean for students. It is our hope that this information will generate robust conversations between parents and educators.

You can read the letter here.  That is quite a change. The statement they released last week blatantly said the State Board of Education approved these score ranges and level 3 and above are “on track for college and career.” If this is not what the State Board decided which meeting?  That’s quite a mistake and doesn’t Commissioner Key approve of press releases going out from his department?

I also find it interesting that he says they will use the PARCC definition “from this point forward” as this is the one and only year they’ll be taking PARCC.