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PARCC may still be on the table for Tennessee schools

July 4th, 2014 8:00 pm by Rick Wagner

PARCC may still be on the table for Tennessee schools

KINGSPORT — While it is true Tennessee is pulling out of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, four Tri-Cities school officials said that is a bit misleading when people construe that as a clear move to abandon Common Core Standards or even PARCC.

Those standards also are known as Tennessee State Standards, a recent reference following opposition to Common Core for math and English/language arts and PARCC.

A copy of the May 21 letter from Gov. Bill Haslam notifying PARCC of the withdrawal has been making the rounds recently on the Internet and social media.

Kingsport Board of Education Vice President Susan Lodal recently said that the withdrawal may not mean PARCC is out for good.

"I checked with Dr. Ailshie (Superintendent Lyle Ailshie) about his understanding of this, and we are looking at it from this perspective: In order for there to be a fair and 'clean' RFP (request for proposals) process, it was likely necessary to officially withdraw from PARCC. This has been done in other states." 

"When the law was amended to postpone PARCC for one year and put out an RFP for the test that will assess the Common Core standards, it was mentioned that it could still end up being PARCC that is chosen, but not necessarily," Lodal wrote in an email.

"Whatever test is chosen, it must assess the students' knowledge of the standards, whether they are 'Common Core State Standards' or 'Tennessee State Standards'" 

Sullivan County Assistant Director of Schools David Timbs agreed, saying that his understanding is that the state will consider PARCC and other tests when it gets responses to request for proposals or RFP for a testing mechanism for new standards.

Media reports when the General Assembly first acted indicated that PARCC's implementation was being delayed a year, but Common Core Standards for math and English/language arts would go into effect as scheduled.

Opponents of Common Core and PARCC in Tennessee and nationwide have been speaking out about their concerns with the "national" testing; although, supporters said the standards grew out of the work of Tennessee and other states wanting to making meaningful, nationwide standards that could compete with international standards.

Opponents, however, have decried PARCC data collection as well as federal financial incentives to states that adopted Common Core.

One issue for 2014-15 is that the testing left in place the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program or TCAPs for grades 3-8 and the end-of-course tests for grades 9-12, does not reflect the new standards.

TCAP and end-of-course testing for science remains as is for 2014-15, while social studies students taught new social studies standards will be tested in a new pilot test that will not count toward student grades or teacher evaluations.
A new test for social studies students, reflecting the new standards, will be used as part of student grades and teacher evaluations in 2015-16.

"We were all ready to give PARCC," Washington County, Tenn., Assistant Superintendent Bill Flanary said.

"We don't know what to think about it," Flanary said. "We kind of thought it was a better way to test. I'm not giving any endorsement for it, but it's seemed to be a better way to test." 

Debra Bentley, supervisor of instruction and communications for the Johnson City school system, said she understood the lawmakers' stated concerns about PARCC centered on the use or misuse of student information and data collection by PARCC.

"I will be very surprised if PARCC doesn't come back as a strong contender," Bentley said.

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