Withdraws from PARCC

Georgia to develop own standardized test plan

by Celia Shortt

Georgia is withdrawing from a multi-state consortium that develops standardized tests for students, saying it wants to create its own academic standards and testing procedures.

The decision would remove the state from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which is a key component of Common Core.

For Coweta County schools, this change means that they will be looking to Georgia instead of PARCC to develop the standardized tests they will use.

“Coweta will be in the same position as every other school district in Georgia,” said Mark Whitlock, CEO of Central Educational Center in Newnan, who serves as the school system’s legislative liaison. “Instead of PARCC, we will look to Georgia to develop the tests we will use.”

Now, instead of consulting with PARCC, the Georgia Department of Education will work with educators throughout the state to create standardized tests that meet Georgia’s current standards in mathematics and English language arts for elementary, middle and high school students. It will also look for opportunities to collaborate with other states.

“After talking with district superintendents, administrators, teachers, parents, lawmakers, and members of many communities, I believe this is the best decision for Georgia’s students,” said Georgia State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “We must ensure that our assessments provide educators with critical information about student learning and contribute to the work of improving educational opportunities for every student.”

By having the tests created in Georgia, by its educators, the state will preserve control over its academic standards and student testing, according to state school officials. If the tests were created by PARCC or another consortium, the state DOE would not be able to make any revisions when needed.

According to a report from Morris News Service, opponents of the Common Core said the new testing arrangement doesn’t alleviate their complaints and raises new concerns.

Conservatives see Common Core as a loss of local control and have sponsored legislation in the General Assembly to withdraw from it. Governor Nathan Deal’s spokesman Brian Robinson said the budget was the governor’s main reason, not bowing to political pressure, according to the Morris report.

“The governor supports this move because it’s fiscally conservative, and it falls in line with the spirit of his executive order that protects the privacy of Georgia students,” Robinson said.

The cost of the partnership’s tests has been a concern from the beginning. Georgia budgets between $8-9 per student for testing each year, but the partnership’s test was expected to cost more than $18. In making Monday’s announcement, Deal expressed confidence that the state could come up with its own exams.

“Just as we do in all other branches of state government, we can create better value for taxpayers while maintaining the same level of quality,” he said.

Barge said he also heard concerns from educators about the partnership’s testing.

One of the critics of the Common Core, Virginia Galloway of the Americans for Prosperity, said Deal and Barge were following North Carolina where lawmakers blocked the state from spending any funds on the partnership’s test. She was asked if having Georgia draft its own test eliminates all of her concerns.

“No, but it helps. And brings up new issues like if we’re not testing for CC, how do we define success in our schools,” she said. “And will all or one of the testing companies adapt their tests to reflect CC methodology?”

Deal said Georgia can create an equally rigorous test for less money and that other states might be interested in using it, too. The state will have to get federal permission to use its own test because the Race to the Top grant requires use of a multi-state exam.

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