Visit Illinois Board of Education website HERE for the latest new news about the rollout of the Common Core testing in Illinois.
Click HERE to read about how different racial groups of Illinois students will be held to different test score standards. This new system of standards was initiated in 2014 as part of the No Child Left Behind waiver agreement with the US Department of Education.
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)
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)
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
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.
PARCC assessment data is used to track student growth, which is different than determining what they have learned. It tests what they don’t know yet. This data will be used to rate students against each other, teacher performance and school/school district performance against all other schools. The PARCC data is integral to the Common Core System. Without this data, tracking the overall goals of Common Core falls apart.
- Click HERE to see US map of states participation in Common Core assessment consortiums.
- Click HERE and turn to page 253 to see the Illinois State Board of Education agreement to purchase the PARCC assessments through the PARCC consortium.
- Look HERE and see an Illinois Department of Ed example of what the test will look like.
As part of the new Common Core standards, the new PARCC assessment will replace the ISAT and Prairie State assessments in 2014-2015. The PARCC English/Language Arts and math assessments will be administered to third through eighth grade students twice a year.
High school students were scheduled to take course-specific tests in English beginning in ninth grade through the eleventh grade year and in math each year through the completion of Algebra 2. Due to financial difficulties, however, Illinois (the state) has determined that it will not offer the ninth and tenth grade course-based tests in 2014-15. Illinois high school students may be tested once during their high school career. It is anticipated that students will be tested during their 11th grade year in English but the decision on math testing has not yet been decided. The Illinois State Board of Education is grappling with this issue and will make the decision during the fall.
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.
PARCC LAWSUIT: The PARCC contract was awarded to Pearson Publishing. States which are members of the consortium all entered into the bidding process together through the state of New Mexico. A competitor of Pearson (AIR) has filed a lawsuit regarding the unfair conditions of the bidding process which ensured that Pearson would be awarded. Read more HERE
Transmission of PARCC 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.
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
Great video which lays out the arguments against national standardized tests
Opting out of PARCC & Other Assessments
At this time, Illinois law states that certain assessments must be administered to students. It does not state that the school has the right to compel students to take the test.
There is no formal process for notifying the school of an opt-out. Many parents simply write a note to the school indicating that they are going to opt the child out of a test. At some schools, a note is enough. However, your school may contact you to discuss the matter. Schools are required to turn over their testing data to the state so that their school can be ranked. If a school official feels that they might not meet their test score quota, they may feel the need to apply pressure on parents who refuse to comply.
Probably the most important consideration is to clearly understand any consequences in opting out of standardized tests. Generally, there is no impact on your child’s grades. Usually, opting out of the test simply means that your child’s testing data will not be incorporated with the data used to rank the school’s performance. School officials may tell you that their funding is dependent on the school’s performance rankings.
It is best to meet with a school official to discuss the opt-out decision in a friendly, matter-of-fact manner. Firmly state that you are responsible for the education of your child and that your family has decided to opt out of the test.
If you opt out of a test, most teachers will be required to put the test booklet or computer in front of the student because they are legally required to administer the test. The student can then tell the teacher that they are not going to take it. Most schools will allow students who are opting out to leave the testing area and quietly read in a learning center or library. We have heard that most teachers are very uncomfortable with this process – don’t assume that the teacher is being unreasonable or mean.
Absence from school on testing days will not opt your child out of assessments. If a student is simply absent on testing days, they will be asked to take the test on make-up days.
HERE is a generic opt out form which you may want to use.
Other Illinois Assessments
Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS)
The Illinois State Board of Education established a Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) Advisory Committee comprised of early childhood experts to guide the state department of education as it moves forward with recommendations for developing a comprehensive kindergarten readiness assessment process.
ISBE has selected the WestEd Center for Child and Family Studies (CCFS) as the contractor to provide services related to the development and administration of the Illinois Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS). KIDS is envisioned as a comprehensive process designed to provide information about children’s competencies across developmental domains over time and to inform whether Illinois’ kindergarteners have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in school. WestEd will develop KIDS by adapting the Desired Results Developmental Profile – School Readiness (DRDP-SR) to align with the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards, the Illinois Learning Standards for Kindergarten, the Social and Emotional Learning Standards, and the New Illinois Learning Standards Incorporating the Common Core for English Language Arts and Mathematics. The DRDP-SR is a comprehensive authentic assessment system that measures children’s progress toward desired outcomes. The WestEd website that you may access to read more about DRDP-SR ishttp://www.wested.org/desiredresults/training/.
KIDS is not a test nor is it a one-time snapshot of a student’s readiness at one point in time. The process involves observing kindergarten students over time, within the context of typical activities, such as English language development, self and social development, self-regulation, language and literacy development, and mathematical development. Results and observations will be recorded three times over the course of the school year.
In other words, the teacher will enter subjective data about kindergarteners into their student data file.
Currently, 64 school districts are piloting the new KIDS assessments.
Click HERE to learn more about the field test and see a list of the 64 school districts which are participating.
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