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Miss. State Board Votes to Leave PARCC, Seek New Test for Next School Year


The Mississippi Board of Education voted today to leave the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a consortium developing tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards, and to seek a new test for next school year.

The state board announced that it would seek a new state assessment in English/language arts and math for the 2015-16 school year by issuing a request for proposals on Feb. 2. The state still plans to administer the PARCC exam this school year.

In a statement announcing the decision, the chairman of the state board, John Kelly, said the move would help create several options for Mississippi as it considers a new assessment.

"The new RFP process will give the state the opportunity to seek competitive, multi-year bids," Kelly said. "Our exit from PARCC will help ensure the process is open and transparent."

Mississippi's withdrawal from PARCC would leave 11 states plus the District of Columbia in the consortium. The board's vote doesn't change the number of states slated to administer PARCC in the 2014-15 school year.

The consortium has required the sign-off of the governor and the state superintendent along with the state board in order for a state to formally depart the consortium. That's been an issue in Louisiana.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, supports the state board of education's decision, a spokesman for his office, Knox Graham, told Education Week in an e-mail.

UPDATE: "I appreciate the actions of State Superintendent Wright and the Board of Education today.  I'm encouraged this will give us the opportunity, like many other states, to competitively bid-out our student assessments, while maintaining the highest standards without federal interference," Bryant said in a statement.

And while state Superintendent Carey Wright serves on PARCC's governing board, last November, she discussed plans by the board to issue the RFP for a state assessment in 2015-16 and beyond. Speaking of the need for a multi-year contract for testing, Wright said in a statement, "Changing tests each year creates a moving target and doesn't provide an accurate picture of what students are learning."

My colleague Sean Cavanagh has covered controversy surounding the contract to administer the PARCC test in Mississippi, and how that spat ties into broader disagreements about PARCC test administration.

The awarding of a PARCC contract is the subject of a legal battle in the state of New Mexico, where a major vendor, the American Institutes for Research, is challenging a potentially enormous award for testing work to Pearson. The AIR has claimed that the bidding process was biased in favor of Pearson.

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