Arizona Parts Ways with PARCC to Avoid Conflict of Interest

Governor Jan Brewer, Superintendent for Public Instruction John Huppenthal, and State Board of Education President Tom Tyree have announced that Arizona is withdrawing from participation in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

Ashley Dammen, writing in the Arizona Education News, says this move is not being made because of any disagreement between Arizona, which is PARCC's governing state, and the partnership.

Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS), is the "rebranded" version of the Common Core. Basically, Arizona is ready to replace AIMS and does not want to have a conflict of interest with PARCC. It has received sample tests from various organizations, as well as from PARCC. Pearson, the largest education company in the world, supplied the AIMS test to Arizona.

Pearson recently won a contract from PARCC and was the only bidder. A New Mexico judge called foul on the basis of unfairness and bias toward Pearson.

Arizona, then, as it seeks bids on its new assessment tool, withdrew from the PARCC consortium. PARCC was not surprised by the withdrawal.

"(A)s Arizona begins its competitive bidding process for a new statewide assessment, it is necessary to withdraw from the PARCC consortium in order to protect the independence of our procurement process and prevent any perception of favoritism," wrote Brewer.

Arizona's superintendent for public instruction, John Huppenthal, who has served on PARCC's board of directors, also signed Brewer's letter, saying, "It debunks the myth that the standards and the new test are being driven by a cabal out of Washington."

A path to implementation for the new test to be chosen in the fall with an $18 million budget. The cost of giving the test ranges from about $12 per student for paper testing and $30 per online test. Around 1 million 3rd-11th grade students will take the tests in the spring, reports Cathryn Creno reporting for AZ Central.

 Leila Williams, the state's deputy associate superintendent of high quality assessments, said Arizona allowed 100,000 of its students, at 500 schools, to help PARCC field-test exam questions before the end of the school year.

Arizona's education reform plan is "Arizona Ready" and its goals are to have every Arizona student reading at grade level by third grade; ensure that students graduate from high school ready for college or a career; and ensure that students who attend college graduate and will be ready to improve the state's competitiveness. To be exact, the plan's objectives are:

  • Increasing to 94% the number of 3rd graders in the state reading on grade level.
  • Increasing the state's high school graduation rate to 93%.
  • Doubling the number of baccalaureate degrees given by Arizona's institutions of higher education.

With Arizona's departure, PARCC is now comprised of: Arkansas, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

06 3, 2014
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