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UPDATED: Common-Assessment Group Cuts Back on Testing

One of the two state consortia designing tests for the common standards has reduced the number of required tests in its design. [UPDATE, July 7: See our story on this.]

The decision came in a quarterly meeting of the governing board for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. Since winning $170-million-plus in federal Race to the Top dollars, PARCC's plan has been a "through-course" design, in which several tests during the year combine into one summative score. PARCC's design had required three tests—after about 25 percent, 50 percent, and 75 percent of the school year's instruction, as well as one at the end of the school year. See this graphic depiction of the consortium's test design.

The consortium has decided to reduce the number of required accountability tests to two, and offer a couple of optional tests as well, designed to provide feedback on student progress. In a press release, PARCC refers to these changes as "refinements" of the original design.

In a letter to member states, governing board Chairman Mitchell Chester said the decision to reduce the number of tests was driven partly by concern for states' costs in a tight economic time and partly by concern that the tests could intrude too much on instructional time and end up influencing curriculum.

That second set of concerns is the one I've heard folks grumbling about; Stay tuned to see whether the changes in PARCC's design will be sufficient to satisfy those grumbles.

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