Oklahoma to Opt Out of PARCC Common-Core Tests

By Erik W. Robelen — July 02, 2013 2 min read
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Oklahoma state Superintendent Janet Barresi signaled yesterday that the state will not use the common-core assessments being developed by the PARCC testing consortium and will work on its own with a testing company to develop tests pegged to the math and literacy standards, the Tulsa World reports.

The news comes several months after Alabama announced that it was withdrawing from both state testing consortia that have been working, supported by more than $350 million in federal dollars, to develop assessments aligned with the common-core standards.

Oklahoma, however, may well remain a member of the PARCC consortium. It became a “governing state” in 2011. It still has the option to remain a “participating state.”

“We do not anticipate withdrawing from the consortium altogether but those details are still being determined,” said department spokeswoman Tricia Pemberton in an email. There are still benefits to remaining a participating member, including access to information and expertise from the consortium.

Including Oklahoma, PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, now counts 21 state members, plus the District of Columbia. (All but three are governing states.) The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium currently has 25 member states, according to its website.

In addition, Florida, another PARCC member state, has signaled in recent months that it’s looking at alternatives to the PARCC assessment system.

As my colleague Catherine Gewertz—who usually covers the common-core testing work for EdWeek—has written, steps such as that just taken by Oklahoma are likely to be of deep concern to both testing consortia as they seek to maintain the viability of their joint testing programs. For example, ACT Inc. is developing an alternative common-core assessment. (In fact, Alabama is going with this option.)

Barresi made clear that Oklahoma’s action would not push back the timing for her state’s common-core testing, the Tulsa World reports. It is still expected to begin with the 2014-15 academic year.

“We came to this decision after many months of deliberation, listening to classroom teachers, curriculum directors, superintendents, and visiting with legislative leadership and the governor’s office,” Barresi told the Tulsa World.

She cited concerns about the lack of capacity of many districts to handle technological demands of the assessments, as well as the time and costs involved.

“If we move ahead with this, we are going to be asking the state to drink a milkshake using a cocktail straw,” she told the Tulsa World.

She also made reference to some of the recent technical problems that temporarily brought to a halt standardized testing in Oklahoma this spring.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this blog post incorrectly stated that Oklahoma is planning to withdraw from the PARCC consortium.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.