Much of the discussion about Common Core is about the content and quality of those new academic standards. Yet the goals of the states banded together to develop the higher standards for student learning included more than that one element.
Another big issue is comparability of the data once students take the new tests based on the new standards.
For Louisiana students, the tests derived from the Common Core standards will be purchased from the regular contractor who deals with the big tasks of generating tests and scoring them. But the questions used on the tests will come from a partnership among Louisiana and a number of other states.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is, obviously, usually shortened to PARCC. But given the political flak thrown up over PARCC and testing in the last few months, you’d think it a curse word.
It’s not, but Gov. Bobby Jindal has tried to leverage his powers over state contracting to block the PARCC test. Jindal was an early supporter of Common Core but turned against it when political headwinds arose, particularly among conservative Republicans whom he is courting for a potential run for president.
A state district judge has blocked Jindal from interfering with the testing, good news for teachers and school administrators seeking more certainty in planning for this school year. While the governor is appealing, we hope that higher courts will uphold the lower court decision.
Superintendent John White said the state Department of Education is moving ahead for the PARCC tests.
In remarks to an education advisory board on Thursday, White said the result will not only be tests aligned with Common Core’s more demanding academic standards. The scores will also be comparable to the tests given in other states that are part of PARCC.
In grades 3 through 8, the PARCC exams in mathematics and English will give Louisiana a more comprehensive yardstick of how much children are mastering their subjects.
For now, the best measure among states is a survey, a test taken by thousands of students called the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP, pronounced “nape.”
It’s a good national “report card,” but the PARCC states will have a much better comparison with the new Common Core-aligned tests.
That’s good for students and schools, because the data can and should be used to evaluate how good a job publicly funded schools are doing. The taxpayer has a right to that kind of accountability.