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Ark. Chief Backtracks, Says State Will Use PARCC's Cut Scores for College Readiness

Earlier this week, Arkansas announced that it would use a different, lower cut score on the PARCC exam to determine whether students are on track for college- and career-readiness than the PARCC consortium itself. But state chief Johnny Key has quickly reversed course. 

On Monday, Oct. 12, the Arkansas education department said that for its own purposes, the state would consider students scoring at a Level 3 or higher on the PARCC test to be on track for college- and career-readiness. However, the PARCC consortium itself only considers students scoring at Levels 4 and 5, the two highest levels on the test out of five scoring levels, as demonstrating that they're on track for higher education and the workforce.

The next day, however, Key said the language his department used to describe students' performance in the context of college- and career-readiness left a "misleading impression" with the public

"Our description of Level 3 and above as reflecting students being 'on track for college and career readiness' was in error," Key said in his statement. "We should have then, as we will from this point forward, used the actual descriptions from PARCC to accurately reflect the performance of students at Level 3 as approaching academic expectations for college and career readiness."

As I pointed out earlier this week, the PARCC consortium can't tell states how to describe student performance on the exam to the public, or how those scores are used. Last month, Ohio decided to describe students scoring at Level 3 as proficient. (In his Tuesday statement, Key stressed that Arkansas students scoring at Level 3 will not be considered "proficient" by the state.)

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