Monday, July 11, 2016
By PARCCThe PARCC consortium welcomes the release of the new proposed regulations for the Innovative Assessment Pilot created through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and announced last week by the U.S. Department of Education. The pilot program allows up to seven districts or states to use alternative tests in place of a state assessment with the expectation that the piloted test will eventually be used statewide.
“The Innovative Assessment Pilot is precisely what the PARCC Governing Board envisioned when we announced new flexible options last November,” said Hanna Skandera, New Mexico Secretary of Education, Chair of the PARCC Governing Board. “The states worked together to develop the highest-quality test the country has ever had. We now want to ensure that as many educators and students as possible can benefit from the work we’ve done.”
Recognizing that the states seek more flexibility for summative assessments, the PARCC Governing Board created a new tiered system of product offerings that includes a menu of options such as:
- The PARCC test blueprint and content, but with the ability for states —separately or jointly—to select their own vendor to administer the test while maintaining rigorous comparability.
- PARCC test items available in blocks providing states the ability to design their own tests.
- A freestanding item bank, providing states or vendors bidding for state contracts the ability to license individual or sets of test items.
“From day one, our focus at PARCC has been on high-quality instruction, mastery of challenging state academic standards, improved outcomes for all students, while having strong partnerships and contributions from educators, districts, parents, and civil rights organizations,” said Laura Slover, CEO of Parcc Inc., the project manager for the PARCC assessment for the PARCC consortium of states. “We stand ready to assist states and districts to take advantage of this new opportunity to develop high-quality assessments that are best-suited for each locale.”
The Innovative Assessment Pilot also requires accessibility for all students. In February 2016, the Center for American Progress recognized the PARCC assessment and recommended that states continue to implement PARCC exams and assessment items to ensure that all students have access to high-quality assessments. In the same month, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO) also recognized the PARCC assessment to be more accessible to students with disabilities and English learners than previous state tests, incorporating features such as a built-in highlighter, audio amplification, and magnification for all students, while students with identified needs can use additional tools such as masking cards, text-to-speech for mathematics and color contrast overlays.
Since 2015, more than eight million students have taken the PARCC assessment. Numerous independent studies have determined that the PARCC tests are high-quality, are closely aligned to states’ academic standards, and set a clear and honest benchmark of what college- and career-ready performance looks like.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is a consortium of states working together to develop and administer a set of mathematics and English language arts/literacy assessments that measure whether students are on track to be successful in the next academic work and, ultimately, in college and their careers. These assessments were designed from the ground up by educators to be different than previous state tests and to evaluate not only knowledge, but also important skills like critical thinking, problem solving and effective communications. The assessments provide critical information about whether students are on track in their learning and for success after high school, and tools to help teachers customize teaching and learning to meet student needs.