The PARCC Death Spiral

Photo credit: Bartmoni (CC-By-SA 3.0)
Photo credit: Bartmoni (CC-By-SA 3.0)

PARCC which has been hemorrhaging membership is still holding onto a glimmer of hope that sustainability is their’s to grasp.

The Washington Post reports:

But fewer than half of the states originally part of PARCC — 11 states and the District of Columbia — were still on board when the online tests rolled out this spring. Since then, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Ohio all have dropped out and just seven states and the District plan to give the test in 2015-2016, raising questions about whether the consortium is in danger of completely falling apart.

PARCC spokesman David Connerty-Marin insisted that it is not. “Of course it is sustainable,” he said, pointing to the old New England Common Assessment Program, which functioned for years with just four states and 400,000 students. Though there are fewer states now shouldering the costs of the exams, PARCC has pledged not to raise the price of exams next year, Connerty-Marin said.

And even though PARCC has shrunk, he said, the nation’s testing landscape is still much different than it was in 2014, when each state gave different tests, making it difficult to compare achievement across state lines.

“A few states will come and go, but this is the new normal,” he said.

Ah, gotta love the spin.  Joanna Weiss at the Boston Globe doesn’t sound so confident writing PARCC looks like it is in “a death spiral.”

PARCC is in what looks like a death spiral: Once adopted by 26 states, it’s now used by fewer than ten. Arkansas dropped it on Thursday. Massachusetts’ Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote this fall on whether to adopt it for good. (Chester chairs the consortium that oversees PARCC, but he doesn’t get a Massachusetts vote.)

Chester says he’s been surprised at the depth of the PARCC backlash. But much of it could have been anticipated. The problems began with the roll-out of the Common Core standards themselves, which was oddly reminiscent of the troubled Boston 2024 Olympic bid process: planning that largely took place outside of public view, creating distrust and raising questions about how much influence outside groups, companies, and philanthropists should have over local policy.

Spin aside, I don’t know how PARCC survives if another state or two leaves.  We’ll place it on death watch.