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We were on a break!

July 2, 2013

Today, we have some clarification of yesterday’s announcement about PARCC. Oklahoma is not pulling all the way out of the testing consortium. We’re in, but we just won’t be using the test. Perfectly clear, right?

I had noticed that the PARCC website still listed Oklahoma as a governing state in the organization, so I posed a question on Twitter. Admittedly, I was trying to be funny, but it led to a brief exchange with the SDE:conversation about parcc

And a hilarious comment from a reader:

jwilliams from twitter

Clarifications and commentaries aside, yesterday’s announcement that Oklahoma is leaving PARCC leaves a number of unanswered questions. Aside from the strictly political ramifications, I see at least five areas needing further discussion.

1. Does the state superintendent unilaterally have the authority to make this decision? I’m not sure how far I’d have to go back into the archives to find it, but I believe the State Board of Education approved the state’s participation with PARCC. Do we have any indication as to the level of their input in this new decision? Other than yesterday’s poorly-worded comments blaming schools for the computer glitches this spring, do we have a better grasp on the reasons?

2. Will the SDE lose momentum in working with educators on test development? This is an important consideration because of the level of reform fatigue in education right now. The SDE, governor, and legislature all bought in to the Common Core in 2010. Oklahoma rode the fence between the two testing consortia as long as possible before going with PARCC, which stands to make money from the assessments they develop. Now we’re not going to use the tests we’ve helped create? And that our teachers and leaders have used as a framework for professional development? Time, patience, and money are all running low right now. The phrase never mind goes a long way to kill momentum and enthusiasm.

3. Will next-generation assessments be in place by 2014-15 as promised? I’ve never been convinced this would happen. If it does, it will happen in a vacuum now. And as far as Oklahoma is concerned, it will happen with a vendor in response to a request for proposals. By the time the new tests are in place, schools will have seen no blueprints.

4. Isn’t part of the push for Common Core to give states something – oh what’s the word…COMMON to use in assessing progress? The most compelling reason for states to adopt common standards was to ensure that our children are just as prepared – if not better prepared – to other states’ children. How will we measure that now?

5. Now that PARCC is a fully-constituted money-making non-profit, will Oklahoma still have a stake in their product? Even though we are going in a different direction (not pulling out, mind you), we helped create whatever test they come up with. Will SDE staff and their chosen groups continue serving on PARCC committees? Can Oklahoma keep its place as a governing state in the consortium? Can we change our minds and come back?

This decision surprised and confused me. As with many of the readers who have commented on the blog, Facebook, and Twitter – along with those who have emailed me – I’m not entirely disappointed. I just don’t understand. It’ll be a while before the ramifications of this decision are clear to anybody.

  1. July 2, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Question 6: Will Janet Barresi retain her position on the PARCC Executive Committee? According to PARCC website: PARCC’s top priority is successful and on-time development of assessments in grades 3-8 and high school. A subset of the PARCC Governing Board – Janet Barresi (OK), Chris Cerf (NJ), Mitchell Chester (MA), Deborah A. Gist (RI), and Hanna Skandera (NM) – serve on the PARCC Executive Committee, which is responsible for providing day to day leadership of the project. A search will commence for a CEO to head the organization within the next two months.


    • Kate
      July 2, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      If she does not retain her position on the Ex Committee then she would not need to travel to Washington DC for the quarterly meetings, perhaps saving $$$$. If she does not retain her position on the Ex Committe which is responsible for providing day-to-day leadership of the project she would have more time to provide day-to-day leadership to the SDE, but then again she’s not really interested in that aspect of her job as State Dentist, and no doubt she would find another “destination” education meeting to attend.


  1. July 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm
  2. September 7, 2013 at 9:52 am
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