State Consortium Scales Back Common-Test Design

Jul 7, 2011 by

A student-achievement test under consideration by nearly half the states has been redesigned to ease their concerns that it would cost too much, shape curriculum, and eat up too much instructional time.

The change was announced last week by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, one of two state consortia using federal Race to the Top funds to craft shared assessments. The tests are for the common academic standards in mathematics and English/language arts that most states have adopted.

Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia belong to PARCC. Thirty belong to the other group, the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium. More than half the states in each group have pledged to use the tests, while others—including a half-dozen that belong to both groups—are still weighing their options.

PARCC’s original proposal featured a “through-course” design, in which tests would be given after teachers completed one-quarter, one-half, three-quarters, and 90 percent of instruction. Some of those tests were to be in the form of essays and performance tasks, and others were to be quick-turnaround, computer-based exams. All four required components were to be combined into one end-of-year summative score, which states would use for accountability required by the No Child Left Behind Act.

A fifth element, a test of students’ speaking and listening skills, was to be given after three-quarters of instruction but not included in the summative score.

At a June 24 meeting, however, the 15 states that make up PARCC’s governing board reduced the number of components in the summative score to two in each subject—one computer-based test and one exam of essays and performance tasks—and placed them close to the end of the school year.

via State Consortium Scales Back Common-Test Design.

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