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Less Than Half of U.S. Students Slated to Take PARCC, Smarter Balanced Tests

Cross-posted from the Curriculum Matters blog

by Catherine Gewertz

If states' current testing plans remain steady for a year, only 42 percent of the K-12 students in the United States are likely to take common assessments designed by the two federal funded testing consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced. Fifty-eight percent of U.S. K-12 students live in states that have chosen other tests, or haven't yet decided which tests they're using.

It's an intriguing thing to note, given the level of heat about common-core testing. As states drop out of the two consortia—or maintain their memberships but reject the tests or put off deciding—the share of the U.S. student population that is likely to take their tests dwindles.

To gauge the portion of students that are likely to take PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests in the next few years, and the portions that will take some other kind of test, we counted the K-12 student populations in each state according to states' testing plans for next year. You might recall that an Education Week analysis of all the states' testing plans showed that while 37 states and the District of Columbia still belong to one or both consortia (and one more state, Arizona, has dropped out since then), only about half of the states actually plan to use those tests.)

Take a look, below, at EdWeek's spreadsheet of the portions of U.S. students that live in states planning to use PARCC, states planning to use Smarter Balanced, states that have chosen another test, and those that haven't yet decided. You'll see that states representing 42 percent of U.S. students currently plan to use some other test. One-quarter of the students appear to be heading for Smarter Balanced tests, and 17 percent appear to be heading for PARCC exams.

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Of course, these figures could change as more states make up or change their minds. If two of the undecided states, high-profile PARCC members New York and Massachusetts, end up committing to that test, it would shift PARCC's overall share of the tested students to 24 percent. But if current dynamics are any indication, many of the most populous states are pretty set in their plans to use other tests (Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia). That's likely to keep the portion of U.S. students not taking PARCC of Smarter Balanced tests pretty large.

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