The Arkansas state school board officially voted today to drop a common-core consortia test in favor of an exam from ACT, delivering a political victory to GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The board voted 4-2, with two abstentions, on July 9 to drop the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam and use the ACT Aspire test instead for the 2015-15 school year. The state administered the PARCC exam this past spring. Both tests are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
It’s the end of a weeks-long battle between the state board and other elected officials, including Hutchinson and state Education Commissioner Johnny Key. The latter two, following up on a recommendation from GOP Lieutenant Gov. Tim Griffin, has pushed for the state to drop the PARCC exam in favor of the ACT Aspire test.
Last month, however, the state board rejected the move by a 7-1 and instead sought to extend the state’s contract to give PARCC for another year.
But after that vote, Hutchinson said he would refuse to sign any extension with PARCC. Hutchinson then replaced three of the board members with his own selections—all of the board members who voted to keep PARCC last month were appointed by Hutchinson’s predecessor in office, Mike Beebe. And all three of those new members appointed by Hutchinson, according to Gavin Lesnick at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, voted to ditch PARCC for the ACT test.
I applaud the Board of Education for its vote in switching from PARCC to ACT/ACT Aspire. #ARNews pic.twitter.com/A8Ei6wLVsC
— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) July 9, 2015
There’s more bad news for PARCC in New York state.
As Sean Cavanagh wrote today, the state decided to drop Pearson as the vendor for its state assessments for grades 3-8 English/language arts and math. Instead, Questar received a five-year, $44 million contract to give those exams. After the award was announced, I asked the New York state education department what exactly, if anything, this contract meant for PARCC in New York. Remember, the Empire State is a member of the PARCC consortium, but didn’t give the test in the most recent school year, instead using common-core tests in those grades that were developed by Pearson.
A department spokeswoman, Jeanne Beattie, replied via email: "[New York state] has no current plans to adopt the PARCC assessments.”
Back in February, my coworker Catherine Gewertz wrote that New York was keeping PARCC at “arms length,” and that at the time it appeared increasingly unlikely that the state would administer PARCC in 2015-16.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.