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Ohio House Passes Bill to Cut PARCC Test; Plus, Md. and Ill. Testing News

It hasn't been the best period politically for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers in statehouses recently. I've written about Colorado lawmakers' move to cut testing, which includes ending PARCC tests for some high school students, and about a potential legislative deal in Louisiana that would reduce PARCC's role in the state in coming years. Here are a few more PARCC nuggets from other states that could impact the consortium's test in a few ways: 

• On May 13, the Ohio House of Representatives approved House Bill 74 by a 92-1 vote. The bill, sponsored by GOP Rep. Andrew Brenner, would require Ohio (which is administering PARCC this year) to seek and ultimately adopt a new English/language arts and math assessment for the 2015-16 school year. And, according to a bill analysis, it would specifically prohibit multistate consortia like PARCC from providing the statewide elementary and end-of-course exams. 

The Ohio House is controlled by Republicans, but as you can tell by the vote count, it drew bipartisan support from Democrats, such as state Rep. Greta Johnson:


The bill also limits testing time for both overall test administration and individual tests. If the bill passes both chambers and is signed by Gov. John Kasich, Ohio would join Mississippi as a state that is administering PARCC for the 2014-15 school year, but will switch to a new test for 2015-16. However, it's not clear that the Ohio Senate will go along with the bill. Senators on a task force have listed their own recommendations for testing that include reducing testing time. But the task force hasn't proposed eliminating PARCC, unless the consortium is unwilling to change its exams to fit the task force's recommendations. 

• The Illinois House of Representatives approved House Bill 306 that would explicitly permit students to opt out of state assessments (such as PARCC, which the state has administered this year) without penalty. The legislation would also allow schools to escape punishments related to opt-outs. 

Earlier in the 2014-15 school year, Chicago district leaders said they would refuse to give PARCC to students, but changed their minds after the state threatened to withhold funding from Windy City schools. Gov. Bruce Rauner hit on the same theme when his office said that the legislation could imperil $1 billion in federal aid. Remember, however, that the U.S. Department of Education has been cagey when discussing how it would respond to schools with high opt-out rates.

• Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed House Bill 452, which will require a state commission to examine how to "alleviate the pressure of excessive student testing," as the Maryland Reporter put it. 

The PARCC exam, which the state has given to students in 2014-15, isn't explicitly cut or curtailed in the legislation. However, the commission will be required to survey how much testing is done in schools and how much time is allotted for students to take tests, and to recommend either additional testing time or the elimination of "duplicative" tests where appropriate. The commission is charged with examining local, state, and federally mandated tests. 

The newly enacted law adds to some uncertainty in the state surrounding PARCC. As Liz Bowie at the Baltimore Sun reported earlier this year, Hogan has expressed doubts about the state's decision to use PARCC. 

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