Use PARCC As a Foundation for New Exams?

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

Emily Griggs, a 6th grade math teachers in Boston Public Schools, wrote an op/ed at Real Clear Education entitled “Why States Should Make PARCC the Foundation of New Exams.”

She wrote in part:

Mounting evidence demonstrates that PARCC is the kind of assessment parents and teachers should want their kids to take. Last fall the National Network of State Teachers of the Year asked 23 award-winning educators to take the PARCC exam alongside five other tests and evaluate them using Evidence-Centered Design and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge index. The participants gave PARCC a strong endorsement.

The PARCC assessment outperformed the other tests by better reflecting the range of knowledge and skills students should master; aligned well with strong instructional practices teachers employ in their classrooms; measure top-performing students equally as well as low-performing students; and are both more rigorous and age-appropriate than states’ previous assessments.

A two-year study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute came to a similar conclusion. Compared to the MCAS and the ACT Aspire assessments, PARCC demonstrated a stronger alignment to Massachusetts’ learning goals. In English language arts, the report notes, PARCC includes appropriately complex texts and requires a range of cognitive demand. In math, the exam is well matched to the learning content at each grade level.

Those are the qualities an educator or parent should want from an exam. The results provide an honest look at how well a child understands the material they are learning. That, in turn, allows teachers to tailor their lesson plans and instruction to meet students’ needs, instead of trying to interpret vague results and hoping for the best.

Putting it mildly, making PARCC the foundation of new assessments would be a grave mistake for states to do. She touts what Massachusetts did with the MCAS/PARCC hybrid which has not been rolled out yet.

Apparently this teacher needs to read the news. States have left PARCC in droves, there is a reason for that. The test has not been validated. Their have been numerous glitches with the delivery that caused New Jersey to delay the assessment this spring. It’s expensive. Getting schools up to snuff with technology (number of computers needed, broadband access) is expensive.

Then there’s the “evidence” she cites. The opinion of 23 teachers, award-winning or not, is just that an opinion. Then citing the Fordham Institute study is laughable since Bill Gates paid for that and the study read like propaganda. This is not “evidence” you can rely on.

If states used PARCC as the foundation of any new exam they develop they are flirting with failure.

2 thoughts on “Use PARCC As a Foundation for New Exams?

  1. To check out the PARCC math assessments for yourself (even the elementary grade ones will tell you all you need to know!), here’s a link to follow: file:///Users/Owner/Documents/PARCC/PARCC%20%7C%20Mathematics%20Practice%20Tests.webarchive

  2. The author, Emily Griggs, is a former TFA member and current member of Teach Plus which received $4.5M from the Gates Foundation. And, Diane Ravitch reports this about the website realcleareducation: The executive editor of “Realcleareducation” is Andrew Rotherham, head of Bellwether Associates and columnist for TIME. Although Andy worked in the Clinton administration, he is a strong supporter of the “reform” movement, an admirer of Teach for America, high-stakes testing, Michelle Rhee, charters, corporate reform, privatization, and all the old familiar memes of the status quo. Some of his clients are “reformers.” One of his associates at Bellwether is Andy Smarick, who longs for the day when public schools and democratic control are replaced by charters. As David Sirota reported, Realcleareducation is funded in part by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. A billionaire, Arnold is an outspoken opponent of public sector pensions. Sirota wrote:

    “As part of his campaign to convince state and local governments “to stop promising a (retirement) benefit” to police officers, firefighters, teachers and other public workers, anti-pension Enron mogul John Arnold is now funding pension converge for Forbes Media’s RealClearEducation. According to a note on RealClearEducation disclosure page, “The Laura and John Arnold Foundation supports RealClearEducation’s coverage of issues affecting teacher pensions.” This appears to be part of Arnold’s larger move to fund media coverage of the same anti-pension campaign he is now waging in the political arena.”

    Follow the money and the agenda, folks.

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