Illinois’s first round of PARCC Testing will occur in the Spring of 2015.
For the 2014-15 school year, all students in grades 3-8 as well as students enrolled in English III and Algebra II/Integrated Math 3 are required to take two PARCC exams.
The Illinois PARCC Testing schedule for 2014-2015 HERE
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
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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 a process to physically force students to take the test. However, there may be academic consequences for those who do not participate. This year, it is unclear what measures will be taken by school officials to ‘force’ students to take the PARCC tests. Local School districts are responsible for ensuring that all students participate.
Some families have decided to protest the PARCC by opting out. This is a form of civil disobedience and an exercise of parental rights. 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.
HERE is the form letter which the Illinois State Board of Education has published to address families which request to opt out of the testing. While the letter states that that schools are required to ADMINISTER the test, it never addresses how they intend to force every student to participate.
Probably the most important consideration is to clearly understand any consequences in opting out of standardized tests. 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. Request that they provide a written document which clearly states any and all consequences for not taking the PARCC or other standardized tests.
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.
Illinois Board of Education general counsel concedes that they cannot compel students to take tests HERE
HERE is a generic opt out form which you may want to use.
HERE is a good Michelle Malkin article about the decision to opt out.
Illinois School Code Law
Illinois school code HERE
Illinois State Board of Education Rules HERE
(105 ILCS 5/2-3.64a-5)
State goals and assessment.
(a) For the assessment and accountability purposes of this Section, "students" includes those students enrolled in a public or State-operated elementary school, secondary school, or cooperative or joint agreement with a governing body or board of control, a charter school operating in compliance with the Charter Schools Law, a school operated by a regional office of education under Section 13A-3 of this Code, or a public school administered by a local public agency or the Department of Human Services.
(b) The State Board of Education shall establish the academic standards that are to be applicable to students who are subject to State assessments under this Section. The State Board of Education shall not establish any such standards in final form without first providing opportunities for public participation and local input in the development of the final academic standards. Those opportunities shall include a well-publicized period of public comment and opportunities to file written comments.
(c) Beginning no later than the 2014-2015 school year, the State Board of Education shall annually assess all students enrolled in grades 3 through 8 in English language arts and mathematics.
Beginning no later than the 2017-2018 school year, the State Board of Education shall annually assess all students in science at one grade in grades 3 through 5, at one grade in grades 6 through 8, and at one grade in grades 9 through 12.
The State Board of Education shall annually assess schools that operate a secondary education program, as defined in Section 22-22 of this Code, in English language arts and mathematics. The State Board of Education shall administer no more than 3 assessments, per student, of English language arts and mathematics for students in a secondary education program. One of these assessments shall include a college and career ready determination.
Students who are not assessed for college and career ready determinations may not receive a regular high school diploma unless the student is exempted from taking State assessments under subsection (d) of this Section because (i) the student's individualized educational program developed under Article 14 of this Code identifies the State assessment as inappropriate for the student, (ii) the student is enrolled in a program of adult and continuing education, as defined in the Adult Education Act, (iii) the school district is not required to assess the individual student for purposes of accountability under federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requirements, (iv) the student has been determined to be an English language learner, referred to in this Code as a student with limited English proficiency, and has been enrolled in schools in the United States for less than 12 months, or (v) the student is otherwise identified by the State Board of Education, through rules, as being exempt from the assessment.
The State Board of Education shall not assess students under this Section in subjects not required by this Section.
Districts shall inform their students of the timelines and procedures applicable to their participation in every yearly administration of the State assessments. The State Board of Education shall establish periods of time in each school year during which State assessments shall occur to meet the objectives of this Section.
(d) Every individualized educational program as described in Article 14 shall identify if the State assessment or components thereof are appropriate for the student. The State Board of Education shall develop rules governing the administration of an alternate assessment that may be available to students for whom participation in this State's regular assessments is not appropriate, even with accommodations as allowed under this Section.
Students receiving special education services whose individualized educational programs identify them as eligible for the alternative State assessments nevertheless shall have the option of taking this State's regular assessment that includes a college and career ready determination, which shall be administered in accordance with the eligible accommodations appropriate for meeting these students' respective needs.
All students determined to be an English language learner, referred to in this Code as a student with limited English proficiency, shall participate in the State assessments, excepting those students who have been enrolled in schools in the United States for less than 12 months. Such students may be exempted from participation in one annual administration of the English language arts assessment. Any student determined to be an English language learner, referred to in this Code as a student with limited English proficiency, shall receive appropriate assessment accommodations, including language supports, which shall be established by rule. Approved assessment accommodations must be provided until the student's English language skills develop to the extent that the student is no longer considered to be an English language learner, referred to in this Code as a student with limited English proficiency, as demonstrated through a State-identified English language proficiency assessment.
(e) The results or scores of each assessment taken under this Section shall be made available to the parents of each student.
In each school year, the scores attained by a student on the State assessment that includes a college and career ready determination must be placed in the student's permanent record and must be entered on the student's transcript pursuant to rules that the State Board of Education shall adopt for that purpose in accordance with Section 3 of the Illinois School Student Records Act. In each school year, the scores attained by a student on the State assessments administered in grades 3 through 8 must be placed in the student's temporary record.
(f) All schools shall administer an academic assessment of English language proficiency in oral language (listening and speaking) and reading and writing skills to all children determined to be English language learners, referred to in Section 14C-3 of this Code as children with limited English-speaking ability.
(g) All schools in this State that are part of the sample drawn by the National Center for Education Statistics, in collaboration with their school districts and the State Board of Education, shall administer the biennial academic assessments under the National Assessment of Educational Progress carried out under Section 411(b)(2) of the federal National Education Statistics Act of 1994 (20 U.S.C. 9010) if the U.S. Secretary of Education pays the costs of administering the assessments.
(h) Subject to available funds to this State for the purpose of student assessment, the State Board of Education shall provide additional assessments and assessment resources that may be used by school districts for local assessment purposes. The State Board of Education shall annually distribute a listing of these additional resources.
(i) For the purposes of this subsection (i), "academically based assessments" means assessments consisting of questions and answers that are measurable and quantifiable to measure the knowledge, skills, and ability of students in the subject matters covered by the assessments. All assessments administered pursuant to this Section must be academically based assessments. The scoring of academically based assessments shall be reliable, valid, and fair and shall meet the guidelines for assessment development and use prescribed by the American Psychological Association, the National Council on Measurement in Education, and the American Educational Research Association.
The State Board of Education shall review the use of all assessment item types in order to ensure that they are valid and reliable indicators of student performance aligned to the learning standards being assessed and that the development, administration, and scoring of these item types are justifiable in terms of cost.
(j) The State Superintendent of Education shall appoint a committee of no more than 21 members, consisting of parents, teachers, school administrators, school board members, assessment experts, regional superintendents of schools, and citizens, to review the State assessments administered by the State Board of Education. The Committee shall select one of its members as its chairperson. The Committee shall meet on an ongoing basis to review the content and design of the assessments (including whether the requirements of subsection (i) of this Section have been met), the time and money expended at the local and State levels to prepare for and administer the assessments, the collective results of the assessments as measured against the stated purpose of assessing student performance, and other issues involving the assessments identified by the Committee. The Committee shall make periodic recommendations to the State Superintendent of Education and the General Assembly concerning the assessments.
(k) The State Board of Education may adopt rules to implement this Section.
(Source: P.A. 98-972, eff. 8-15-14.)
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
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