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The PARCC Common Core test is in trouble. Mississippi canceled its participation last week, bringing the number of states participating in PARCC to only 10. Now the Chicago Public Schools have decided to give the test in only 10% of the district’s schools.
According to Sarah Karp in Catalyst:
CPS officials say that the district will go against the state’s testing plans and refuse to give all students the controversial new PARCC exam. Spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Friday evening that district leaders plan to have only 10 percent of schools take the PARCC, the new state-mandated test that is geared to the Common Core standards. McCaffrey called it an expanded pilot and said that the schools taking the PARCC will be representative of the entire district.
He said he was not immediately certain of the possible consequences for CPS. State officials, who have insisted that all school districts in Illinois administer the PARCC to all students, said they will continue to work with Chicago.
New Governor Bruce Rauner has not taken a stand on the PARCC or whether the state should go forward with full implementation. Several states that originally said they were going to administer the PARCC have pulled out and now only 11 states are still committed, according to PARCC’s website.
“It is a big victory for right now,” said Raise Your Hand’s Wendy Katten. Katten’s group, More than A Score, and other active parents fought diligently against the PARCC. They gathered more than 4,000 signatures on a petition and met with more than 20 legislators.
The parent groups argued that the PARCC is not yet ready to be rolled out, asserting that the test questions are confusing and the test is too long. In general, the groups also are against high-stakes standardized testing.
While the delay is something to celebrate now, Katten said it could be short-lived if the PARCC isn’t improved and the state insists on keeping it for next school year. Katten said her group will continue to push for a bill allowing parents to opt their children out of standardized tests. As it is now, students must refuse the tests themselves.
Sarah Chambers, a special education teacher at Saucedo Elementary who helped lead a testing boycott last year, said she thinks CPS made the decision because they were afraid that large numbers of parents would have their children opt out.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett says the district is not prepared to give the tests. Almost 2/3 of the students, especially in the younger grades, do not have regular access to computers, and the PARCC test is given online.
The Chicago Teachers Union also opposes the test and has approved a resolution opposing implementation of the test, which replaces the Illinois Standards Achievement Test. CTU President Karen Lewis said she shared concerns similar to those of Byrd-Bennett.
“When we have teachers without desks and students without books, and we’re still trying to mandate a computer-driven test without any of the infrastructure we need to do that with,” Lewis said. “This is another unfunded mandate that comes down to punishing people for being poor.”