Sad Days in PARCCland
PARCC, built on the dream of a national scale standardized testing system, has been dumped by yet another state. Governor John Kasich of Ohio yesterday signed a budget that severs Ohio's connection to the PARCC consortium. The dream is dying.
The PARCC had only been used in Ohio for one year-- but that year was disastrous. State Senator Peggy Lehner (who may be a saint or who may be an opportunist who saw a political opening) had set up her own committee to look into testing issues, and what she found in a survey a few months ago was that basically every sentient human in Ohio hates the PARCC test. In her survey, Lehner found exactly one superintendent who "strongly agreed" that the implementation of the tests went well.
The Ohio legislature has been after PARCC for several months, including an earlier proposal that not only cut the test but cut the education department's budget for all testing (the new bill allows for new tests, but shorter and given only once at year's end). And way back in February, 25-year veteran teacher (and BAT) Dawn Neely-Randall spoke out against the test, helping kick off an avalanche of criticism from teachers.
Governor Kasich, a Common Core True Believer who has labeled Core opposition "hysteria," has tried to defend the PARCC, but clearly has given up that fight. His Presidential aspirations may or may not be a factor, but Kasich is the only other Republican besides Jeb Bush who would conceivably not run away from Common Core. For PARCC, this is more bad news.
When the testing consortium was launched, it included twenty-three states and the District of Columbia. Ohio's defection brings the number down to ten states, plus DC. Those states are Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Rhode Island (that's according to the PARCC website, which hasn't been changed to reflect the new loss).
You'll notice two things about the list-- one is that some of those states are not necessarily solidly in the PARCC camp, and the other is that they are not among America's most populous. PARCC was only testing five million students when Ohio was still in; now that number grows smaller still. It's no wonder that testing advocates are pushing so hard to keep every year, every student testing mandates in the ESEA rewrite-- the market and attendant revenue stream for test manufacturers like Pearson is plummeting. (Update: Let me clarify that-- the market for state-by-state manufacturing is growing, but the chance to blanket the entire country with a single test product is falling apart.)
In fact, the indispensable Mercedes Schneider reports this morning that marketing research firm Questor now lists Pearson as a "sell," citing in particular the growing scrutiny of testing in North America.
There's no longer any question that PARCC's golden days are long behind it. It will be interesting just how small the test can get before Pearson decides that the much-unloved not-so-mega-test is no longer worth their corporate time, trouble, and investment.