Illinois has decided to do away with the Partnership for the Achievement of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test and instead will be giving its high school students a redesigned SAT, according to the Illinois State Board of Education's (ISBE) announcement.
Eliminating the PARCC assessment is being explained to the public as a way to cut back on standardized testing. Giving the SAT will provide equal access to a college entrance exam that is necessary for admission applications. The decision was made after discussions with parents, unions, administrators and others, writes Lauren Fitzpatrick of the Chicago Sun-Times.
PARCC is said to measure students' readiness for college by asking "in-depth analytical questions." But last year in Chicago, 10% of students who could have chosen this exam did not.
Now, ISBE will pay for each high school junior to take the College Board's SAT and its writing instrument in the spring, and it will take the place of the state's annual federally-required assessment. PARCC will still be given to students in third through eighth grades.
"District and school administrators overwhelmingly agree with ISBE that every high school junior should have access to a college entrance exam, a policy that promotes equity and access and that provides each and every student with greater opportunities in higher education," State Supt. Tony Smith said in a press release.
Although the ISBE has not disclosed how much this change will cost, when the state started giving 1 million students the PARCC in 2014, it cost approximately $34 million, and an additional $4.5 million of that amount went to high school students who were in specific English and math courses.
PARCC testing began in the state at the same time that Illinois began teaching from the federal Common Core standards, which was two years ago.
Mike Chamness, a spokesman for the Illinois Association of School Administrators, said that the fact that the board decision was made with input from students, teachers, and others makes it especially encouraging.
"It's good to see a state agency respond in that way," Chamness said.
Pantagraph's Dan Petrella says the first year of giving the PARCC was plagued with tech problems and thousands of students opting out of test-taking. Illinois House legislators even passed a bill spelling out the rules for parents who wanted their kids not to take the test.
When PARCC was first rolled out it had many critics who said it was brought on board too quickly, that it did not provide quality data, and who pointed out that the results were not accepted by colleges.
The SAT aligns closely with the state's learning standards and eliminates double-testing which interferes with classroom instructional time, writes Jason Nevel of The State Journal-Register.
PARCC was tossed for high-schoolers as part of an education reform initiative headed by school leaders and advocates called Vision 20/20.
The Illinois Association of School Administrators Executive Director Brent Clark said that the move was a "common-sense" decision.
"This will help alleviate the over-testing of students, save valuable classroom time for learning and also gives us useful data regarding where our students stand regarding college and career readiness," Clark said.