Ohio drops PARCC; is this a sign of the end?

Gov John Kasich, Republican of Ohio, approved most of the state’s budget yesterday, but he made significant cuts to school funding and removed all funding earmarked for the PARCC exams used in the state this year and field tested there and in about a dozen other states in the 2013-14 school year, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

The multi-state testing consortium known as PARCC, which stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, started with more than 20 state members plus the District of Columbia. It now has about half that number, and by some counts, given legislative and executive movement in several member states, as few as eight members.

“What the General Assembly has done has taken a common-sense approach to this whole testing issue,” the Dispatch quoted Tom Ash, of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, as saying, referring to the stripping of funding for the PARCC consortium.

The Ohio Department of Education, which is now under orders to find a new test that will be better accepted in Ohio, issued the following statement this morning:

Our top priority is making sure Ohio has high-quality standards and rigorous assessments that ensure students are on the right path to be ready for college and careers. While Ohio educators have played a leading role in creating the PARCC assessments, we are committed to moving forward to build a seamless system that is easy to use and provides timely information to teachers and parents.

We in Maryland wish them the best, and I want to say, personally, it has been great working with the caring and professional educators from Ohio that took part in PARCC meetings, committees, operational working groups, and other activities. They will be missed, and the bigger fish they now have to fry will no doubt put them in a mode of not looking back.

It’s hard to put a positive spin on this, folks, since Ohio was the most populous state left in the consortium. The cost states were paying for the tests, already a little higher in Maryland than the state’s previous tests and a lot higher in Illinois, was based on the projected volume of test takers across the consortium. The future of the consortium, with only a handful of states remaining, is starting to look a little fuzzy to me.

Plus, from the inside, I can only say that working with other states, whose methods are just as valid but very different from the methods we use in Maryland, just to reach some sort of lowest common denominator as a consensus approach to policy, has been trying at times and resulted in sacrifices of all parties. Some of those sacrifices were made to accommodate the good people of Ohio, and now they’re not even a part of the consortium moving forward.

I leave it there, except to provide some assessment of the other grayed-out boxes in our diagram:

  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said last week he can end the PARCC contract even without state board approval.
  • Louisiana will not use the PARCC tests, although some questions on whatever test they use for accountability purposes under federal law may come from the PARCC question bank.
  • Mississippi withdrew from the consortium by a state board vote earlier this year, but students in the state were allowed to access the tests in the 2014-15 school year. Who knows?

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more biographical information, see the About page.