Oklahom pulling out of standardized testing through consortium

Jul 3, 2013 by

State Superintendent Janet Barresi announced Monday that she is withdrawing Oklahoma from testing through a consortium of 20 or so other states to coincide with the new Common Core curriculum standards.

Instead of using new assessments developed through the group, called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, Oklahoma will work with a testing company to develop its own new standardized tests for the 2014-15 academic year.

“We came to this decision after many months of deliberation, listening to classroom teachers, curriculum directors, superintendents and visiting with legislative leadership and the governor’s office,” Barresi told the Tulsa World.

Many educators and parents groups have been vocal in recent months about their concern about the additional hours of test-taking that would be involved in PARCC assessments.

Barresi said their concerns, along with her own about the technology readiness of the state’s public schools and higher anticipated costs, were her three primary reasons for backing out.

She said the vast majority of technical problems that public schools experienced with online testing this spring are proof that Oklahoma just does not yet have the capacity for the volume of online testing required for PARCC tests.

And she added, many schools don’t have the expertise or funds to improve connectivity, increase bandwith, and add enough more more devices to get caught up by 2014-15.

“If we move ahead with this, we are going to be asking the state to drink a milkshake using a cocktail straw,” Barresi said.

“If you look at what happened with testing this year — kids getting screen frozen, knocked off the test — those were technical issues that were from the districts’ end of things. (The testing vendor) crashed for two days because of server problems, but almost every bit of the rest of it was due to district issues. I’m not pointing fingers, but it is the reality.”

Through the PARCC alliance, Oklahoma and 21 other states and one U.S. territory had banded together to develop a new set of K-12 standardized tests in English, language arts, literacy and math.

PARCC received a $186 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top competition to support the development and design of this “next-generation” assessment system.

Sherry Fair, a state education spokeswoman, said Barresi will be consulting with Gov. Mary Fallin’s office about whether Oklahoma should remain as a participating state in PARCC, so that it can still have access to their information and expertise, or withdraw as a member in the consortium all together.

Oklahoma needs new tests to coincide with its implementation of new curriculum standards, called the Common Core State Standards.

The Common Core State Standards initiative is a states-led effort to provide curriculum standards that are consistent throughout the country, beginning with English and math. Oklahoma is among 45 states and three U.S. territories that adopted the standards.

via State pulling out of standardized testing through consortium | Tulsa World.

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