Pulling out of PARCC
If you never bothered to learn what PARCC stands for, don’t worry about it. Today, Superintendent Barresi announced that Oklahoma was pulling out of the testing consortium to work directly with a vendor to develop our own tests over the Common Core. According to the Tulsa World, after citing concerns from Oklahoma educators, she eventually pointed the finger at Oklahoma school districts:
If we move ahead with this, we are going to be asking the state to drink a milkshake using a cocktail straw,” Barresi said. “If you look at what happened with testing this year — kids getting screen frozen, knocked off the test — those were technical issues that were from the districts’ end of things. (The testing vendor) crashed for two days because of server problems, but almost every bit of the rest of it was due to district issues. I’m not pointing fingers, but it is the reality.
(I stand corrected; she specifically said she was NOT pointing fingers.)
She fails to mention that CTB/McGraw-Hill’s servers failed in other states too. Or that Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz is seeking real damages from CTB, rather than a cozy deal and a slap on the wrist like we are. Or that the state and the testing company still haven’t fixed all the data from the tests that Oklahoma students took in April and May. (See here and here.)
Whether pulling out of PARCC is a good idea or not…I can’t answer that. The details of the assessment length always seemed nebulous. Reports from school district people attending meetings of the consortium differed from those of SDE people, who always seemed satisfied with the direction and progress of the development of the assessments. In any case, Oklahoma has spent a lot of money contributing to the development of a process that now won’t benefit us at all.
My suspicion is that this announcement has more to do with her embattled campaign for reelection than it does with the stated issues. A strong push is coming from within the national and state Republican parties for withdrawal from Common Core. As more and more contenders emerge for the state superintendency, Barresi has to try to please the base. Right now, surviving the primary is the singular focus of the state superintendent and much of her staff (but not during work hours…of course).
This announcement gives Barresi control of the narrative for now. She’s helping schools (while blaming them a little bit). But she’s doing much more than that. She’s letting donors and the establishment of the party know that she’s heard their concerns – and that all the noise is a little bit jolting.