The PARCC testing consortium has decided to make the speaking-and-listening section of its test optional for states for at least two years.
The decision, made this month, means that member states of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers will allow districts to decide whether to administer the portion of the test that measures one particular set of skills in the Common Core State Standards: how well students absorb information by listening and how well they communicate that knowledge orally.
The consortium’s grant from the U.S. Department of Education required it to design a test of speaking-and-listening skills, and to administer it to students, but states were not required to include those scores in the overall summative score.
As the consortium considered adding the speaking-and-listening scores into the total score for the test, PARCC discovered it needed more time to research the best ways to do that, according to CEO Laura Slover.
It obtained the permission of the Education Department to make the speaking-and-listening portion of the test optional for the next two years, she said, but department officials told consortium leaders they “will continue to pressure PARCC and states to make sure speaking and listening get measured,” she said.
The key issue was the difficulty of standardizing an assessment designed to be built into daily classroom instruction. Doug Sovde, who is overseeing the nonsummative part of the PARCC test design, said the speaking-and-listening tests require “authentic performance” by students and probably an as-yet-undetermined amount of additional testing time.
A version of this article appeared in the September 24, 2014 edition of Education Week as Assessment Group Makes Speaking-and-Listening Test Optional