Visit Illinois Board of Education website HERE for the latest new news about the rollout of the Common Core testing in Illinois.
PARCC Field Test in 2014
Illinois is participating in a field test during the 2013-2014 school year.
According to the IL Dept. of Ed., 680 school district and 1900 schools have agreed to participate. (Il Dept. of Ed Winter 2014 powerpoint HERE). Parents are receiving a notification if their school will be in the field test.
Illinois Board of Education PARCC Field Test fact sheet HERE
Parent PARCC field test handout HERE
What is the PARCC Assessment?
As part of the Race to the Top program, the U.S. Department of Education awarded a total of $330 million in September 2010 that will strengthen the hold that the federal government and special interests have on K-12 curriculum content, increase the frequency of standardized tests, diminish the importance of traditional classroom tests, and further marginalize the role of parents and teachers.
Illinois partnered with Common Core test consortium called: Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
Click HERE to see US map of states participation in Common Core assessment consortiums.
According to the Department of Education, PARCC will “replace the one end-of-year high stakes accountability test with a series of assessments throughout the year that will be averaged into one score for accountability purposes” (emphasis added)
All Common Core testing is administered on a computer, and the questions are very different than the multiple choice questions that students have traditionally seen.
In this Daily Herald article, suburban school districts send a letter to State Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch asking that he delay PARCC another year. He admits that the test is designed to “drive instruction” and that the PARCC test is a fundamental change of philosophy in our schools.
In January 2014, the Illinois Dept. of Ed reported that only 60% of schools have the required infrastructure (computers & bandwidth) to administer the PARCC. Schools which do not meet these requirements will need to administer the paper and pencil version of the tests.
Look HERE and see an Illinois Department of Ed example of what the test will look like.
The Common Core testing has been delayed by one year and will be fully implemented in the 2013-2014 school year.
This assessment program has the stated goals of:
- Developing new standardized tests aligned with the Common Core Standards
- Testing students annually from third grade through high school
- Providing “ongoing feedback to teachers during the course of the school year” as well as measure annual student growth.
- Transition from paper and pencil to a computerized test
- Use student test scores to evaluate teacher performance
PARCC agreement with the US Department of Ed: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/parcc-cooperative-agreement.pdf
PARCC Computerized Assessments Guideline:
The cooperative agreement between U.S. Department of Education and the partnership offers some troubling terms:
Page 3, item 5: “Including, but not limited to working with the Department of Education to develop a strategy to make student level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis for research.”
Page 10, item 6: “The Grantee must provide timely and complete access to any and all data collected at the state level to Education Department or its designated program monitors, technical assistance providers or researcher partners.”
In short, the government wants to collect a dossier on every child, containing highly intrusive personal information, without asking permission or even notifying parents. If you are concerned with the federal government having complete access to your child’s personal information, contact your state and local school boards, governor, and state and federal legislators. Ask them to withdraw from the partnership.
U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan Announces Winners of Competition to Improve Student Assessments
Teacher Performance Evaluations and Student Test Scores
Here is the Illinois Department of Ed information regarding teacher evaluations and test scores.
As part of the adoption of Common Core, states have agreed to use student assessment data as part of teacher performance evaluations. This has been a point of disagreement between Illinois and the UD Department of Ed. Our existing state law regarding teacher evaluations mandates a timeline for new teacher evaluations which is in conflict with the CCSS timeline.
Transmission of Testing Data
PARCC tests are owned and trademarked by a private company. Each state signed a contract with the PARCC consortium which requires the state to transmit the student testing data to PARCC for evaluation and research.
The PARCC consortium will make the data, including identifiable records, available to a variety of federal government agencies and research firms. Student data privacy laws have been loosened to allow for this data sharing and parents will not be notified. There is no clear process for amending or correcting data once it has been shared.
Great video which lays out the arguments against national standardized tests
Other Illinois Assessments
Preschool Common Core aligned testings: KIDS program
Illinois will collect emotional/behavioral data on kindergarteners to determine their ‘ability to succeed’ in school.
- Self and Social Development (SSD),
- Self‐Regulation (REG),
- Language and Literacy Development (LLD),
- Mathematical Development (MATH), and
- English Language Development (ELD).5
Description of kindergarten assessments and how they are aligned to Common Core: http://www.illinoiskids.org/sites/default/files/training_docs/Alignment%20of%20the%20DRDP-SR%20and%20Common%20Core%202013-02-14_Final%281%29.pdf
Common Core Assessment myths and facts sheet
from Fair Test.org
NOTE: TO PRINT THIS FACT SHEET CLICK HERE.
Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), each state set its own learning standards and developed tests to measure them. But NCLB’s failure to spur overall test score gains or close racial gaps led “reformers” to push for national, or “common,” standards. With millions in federal Race to the Top money and NCLB “waivers” as incentives, all but a few states agreed to adopt Common Core standards. Two multi-state consortia — the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) — won federal grants to develop Common Core tests, which are due to be rolled out in 2014-15. Here are the realities behind major Common Core myths.
Myth: Common Core tests will be much better than current exams, with many items measuring higher-order skills.
Reality: New tests will largely consist of the same old, multiple-choice questions.
Proponents initially hyped new assessments that they said would measure – and help teachers promote – critical thinking. In fact, the exams will remain predominantly multiple choice. Heavy reliance on such items continues to promote rote teaching and learning. Assessments will generally include just one session of short performance tasks per subject. Some short-answer and “essay” questions will appear, just as on many current state tests. Common Core math items are often simple computation tasks buried in complex and sometimes confusing “word problems” (PARCC, 2012; SBAC, 2012). The prominent Gordon Commission of measurement and education experts concluded Common Core tests are currently “far from what is ultimately needed for either accountability or classroom instructional improvement purposes” (Gordon Commission, 2013).
Myth: Adoption of Common Core exams will end NCLB testing overkill.
Reality: Under Common Core, there will be many more tests and the same misuses.
NCLB triggered a testing tsunami (Guisbond, et al., 2012); the Common Core will flood classrooms with even more tests. Both consortia keep mandatory annual English/language arts (ELA) and math testing in grades 3-8 and once in high school, as with NCLB. However, the tests will be longer than current state exams. PARCC will test reading and math in three high school grades instead of one; SBAC moves reading and math tests from 10th grade to 11th. In PARCC states, high schoolers will also take a speaking and listening test. PARCC also offers “formative” tests for kindergarten through second grade. Both consortia produce and encourage additional interim testing two to three times a year (PARCC, 2012; SBAC, 2012). As with NCLB, Common Core tests will be used improperly to make high-stakes decisions, including high school graduation (Gewertz, 2012), teacher evaluation, and school accountability.
Myth: New multi-state assessments will save taxpayers money.
Reality: Test costs will increase for most states. Schools will spend even more for computer infrastructure upgrades.
Costs have been a big concern, especially for the five states that dropped out of a testing consortium as of August 2013. PARCC acknowledges that half its member states will spend more than they do for current tests. Georgia pulled out when PARCC announced costs of new, computer-delivered summative math and ELA tests alone totaled $2.5 million more than its existing state assessment budget. States lack resources to upgrade equipment, bandwidth and provide technical support, a cost likely to exceed that of the tests themselves (Herbert, 2012). One analysis indicates that Race to the Top would provide districts with less than ten cents on the dollar to defray these expenses plus mandated teacher evaluations (Mitchell, 2012).
Myth: New assessment consortia will replace error-prone test manufacturers.
Reality: The same, incompetent, profit-driven companies will make new exams and prep materials.
The same old firms, including Pearson, Educational Testing Service and CTB/McGraw-Hill, are producing the tests. These firms have long histories of mistakes and incompetence. The multi-national Pearson, for example, has been responsible for poor-quality items, scoring errors, computer system crashes and missed deadlines (Strauss, 2013). Despite these failures, Pearson shared $23 million in contracts to design the first 18,000 PARCC test items (Gewertz, 2012).
Myth: More rigor means more, or better, learning.
Reality: Harder tests do not make kids smarter.
In New York, teachers witnessed students brought to tears (Hernandez & Baker, 2013), faced with confusing instructions and unfamiliar material on Common Core tests. New York tests gave fifth graders questions written at an 8th grade level (Ravitch, 2013). New York and Kentucky showed dramatic drops in proficiency and wider achievement gaps. Poor results hammer students’ self-confidence and disengage them from learning. They also bolster misperceptions about public school failure, place urban schools in the cross hairs and lend ammunition to privatization schemes. If a child struggles to clear the high bar at five feet, she will not become a “world class” jumper because someone raised the bar to six feet and yelled “jump higher,” or if her “poor” performance is used to punish her coach.
Myth: Common Core assessments are designed to meet the needs of all students.
Reality: The new tests put students with disabilities and English language learners at risk.
Advocates for English language learners (Maxwell, 2013) have raised concerns about a lack of appropriate accommodations. A U.S. Education Department’s technical review assessed the consortia’s efforts in July 2013 and issued a stern warning, saying that attempts to accommodate students with disabilities and ELLs need more attention(Gewertz, 2013).
Myth: Common Core “proficiency” is an objective measure of college- and career-readiness.
Reality: Proficiency levels on Common Core tests are subjective, like all performance levels.
Recent disclosures demonstrate that New York State set passing scores arbitrarily (Burris, 2013). There is no evidence that these standards or tests are linked to the skills and knowledge students need for their wide range of college and career choices (Ravitch, 2013). In addition, school officials have often yielded to the temptation to cheat and manipulate test results to bolster the credibility of their favored reforms. Examples include Atlanta, New York, Washington, DC, Indiana, Florida, and more (FairTest, 2012).
Myth: States have to implement the Common Core assessments; they have no other choice.
Reality: Yes they do. Activists should call for an indefinite moratorium on Common Core tests to allow time for implementation of truly better assessments.
High-quality assessment improves teaching and learning and provides useful information about schools. Examples of better assessments include well-designed formative assessments (FairTest, 2006), performance assessments that are part of the curriculum (New York Performance Standards Consortium), and portfolios or Learning Records (FairTest, 2007) of actual student work. Schools can be evaluated using multiple sources of evidence that includes limited, low-stakes testing, school quality reviews, and samples of ongoing student work (Neill, 2010). It’s time to step back and reconsider what kinds of assessments will help our students and teachers succeed in school and life.
- Burris, C. 2013. “How come officials could predict test score results?” Blog post, Answer Sheet.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/12/how-come-…
- FairTest. 2006. “The Value of Formative Assessment.” http://www.fairtest.org/value-formative-assessment
- FairTest. 2007. “The Learning Record.” http://www.fairtest.org/learning-record\
- FairTest. 2012. Confirmed Cases of Test Cheating (2008-2012).http://fairtest.org/sites/default/files/CheatingReportsList.pdf
- Gewertz, C. 2012. “Questions Dog Design of Tests,” Education Week.http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/07/31/37act.h31.html
- Gewertz, C. 2012. “Will the Common Assessments Be Used as a Graduation Requirement?” Education Week.http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2012/09/common_core_tests_to_r…
- Gewertz, C. 2013. “Ed. Dept. Panel Says Test Consortia Need Sharper Focus on Accessibility,” Education Week.http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2013/07/ed_dept_technical_revi…
- Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education. 2013. “A Public Policy Statement.”http://www.gordoncommission.org/rsc/pdfs/gordon_commission_public_policy…
- Guisbond, L., Neill, M., and Schaeffer, R. 2012. NCLB’s Lost Decade for Educational Progress: What Can We Learn from this Policy Failure? Boston: FairTest, http://www.fairtest.org/NCLB-lost-decade-report-home.
- Herbert, M. 2012, July/August. “Common Core Testing Online Without Constant Connectivity?” District Administration. http://www.districtadministration.com/article/common-core-testing-online…
- Hernandez, J. and Baker, A. “A Tough New Test Spurs Protest and Tears,” New York Times.http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/education/common-core-testing-spurs-ou…
- Maxwell, L.A. 2013, August 5. “ELL Advocates Call for PARCC Tests in Spanish,” Education Week.http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning-the-language/2013/08/ell_advocat…
- Mitchell, Kenneth. 2012. “Federal Mandates on Local Education: Costs and Consequences – Yes, it’s a Race, but is it in the Right Direction?” CRREO Discussion Brief #8. http://www.newpaltz.edu/crreo/brief_8_education.pdf
- Neill, M. 2010. “A Better Way to Assess Students and Evaluate Schools,” Education Week.http://www.fairtest.org/better-way-assess-students-and-evaluate-schools
- Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Item and Task Prototypes. 2012.http://www.parcconline.org/samples/item-task-prototypes#6.
- Ravitch, D. 2013. “Punishing kids for adult failures,” Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/punishing-kids-adult-failures-article…
- Ravitch, D. 2013. “The Biggest Fallacy of the Common Core Standards: No Evidence.”http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/24/the-biggest-fallacy-of-the-common-cor…
- Singer, A. 2013. “What Does a Common Core/Danielson Lesson Plan Look Like?” Huffington Post.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/what-does-a-common-coreda_b_38…
- Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. A Summary of Core Components. 2012.http://www.smarterbalanced.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Smar…
- Strauss. V. 2013. “A brief history of Pearson’s problems with testing,” Answer Sheet.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/24/a-brief-h…
- Ujifusa, A. 2013. “Tests Linked to Common Core in Critics’ Cross Hairs,” Education Week.http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/08/02/37testside.h32.html