PARCC Considers Reorganization, Seeks Input to Shape its Future

By Catherine Gewertz — February 09, 2016 2 min read
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The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, better known as PARCC, is soliciting input from the testing field as it considers whether to restructure itself.

In an announcement Tuesday, the PARCC governing board invited those interested in its work to attend a virtual forum on Feb. 16. Taking calls from assessment leaders, vendors, and others during that event, PARCC leaders hope to get ideas about whether it should reorganize itself to better deliver test options to states, and if so, how it should reorganize. (Click here for details about how to RSVP and call in to the forum, which will be held at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time.)

In its announcement, the PARCC governing board said that all parts of its assessment system, including the instructional supports, will continue to be available as it considers possible changes in its organization, and that testing would not be disrupted this year or in any future year.

The solicitation of input follows PARCC’s November announcement that it would start offering states the option of customizing its test, buying pieces instead of the entire system of assessments for grades 3-11.

Hanna Skandera, the secretary of education in New Mexico, which belongs to PARCC, said in an interview that the input received at the forum will help the governing board decide whether to restructure or replace its current organization, Parcc Inc., since that nonprofit’s contract with its states runs out in June 2017.

“This is a natural progression,” Skandera said. “It’s the right timing to ask questions and get the best thinking.”

The governing board plans to issue a request for information from the assessment field, she said. The responses it receives, and the input it gathers from the forum, will help Parcc Inc. decide whether it needs to restructure, and if so, how, Skandera said.

The consortium, which has battled declining membership and a backlash against standardized testing, is trying to sort out the best way to provide its services to states. Among the questions it’s asking: What’s the best way to set ourselves up to get good test content to states, and let them customize what they get? What’s the best way to let states collaborate to build test content, and still safeguard test quality and comparability?

There’s always the looming question of sustainability, too: Do we need to restructure our organization to survive years down the road? Or will we be able to manage just the way we are?

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