State withdraws from test development consortium

LAWRENCEVILLE — Citing ongoing concerns, the Georgia Department of Education on Monday withdrew from a group of states that had joined together to develop the next generation of standardized test.

In a joint statement, state Superintendent John Barge and Gov. Nathan Deal said Georgia would now work with educators across the state and region to create standardized tests aligned with the state’s academic standards in math and English language arts. The group of states, originally 22, has dwindled following the reported withdrawal of Florida, Alabama, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers said it would cost $29.50 per student for computer-based administration of the test.

“We have had some concerns for quite some time but the announcement had more to do with the fact that we had to decide whether or not to field test PARCC items this year,” state DOE spokesman Matt Cardoza said. “That deadline just happened. It is a cost issue for us.”

The PARCC tests in English and math were estimated to cost more than the state spends on its entire testing program.

However the new tests are structured, Barge said it would be developed for students in third grade through high school, be reviewed by Georgia teachers and require less time to administer than the PARCC tests. It would also be offered on a computer and paper.

Gwinnett County Public Schools spokesman Jorge Quintana said this decision doesn’t change what students are going to learn, or the best practices or training teachers learned in staff development this summer.

“We’re going to pay close attention to the DOE, and wait for further details on the next step in plans regarding assessing student achievement,” he said.

Cardoza said parents may have noticed recently that a passage rate was much lower in ninth grade coordinate algebra than other math courses in recent years.

“That’s because of the new test complexity and higher cut score,” he said.

In listing the reasons for the pullout, along with its cost, Barge said many school districts don’t have the equipment or bandwith to administer the test.

Deal said students’ academic performance remains a critical need to ensure that students can compete on equal footing with their peers across the country.

“Georgia can create an equally rigorous measurement without the high costs associated with this particular test,” he said. “Just as we do in all other branches of state government, we can create better value for taxpayers while maintaining the same level of quality.”


kevin 9 months ago

so much for standardized tests!


SurelyNot 9 months ago

Dare we ask how much has already been spent on PARCC -- all components of trying to "sell" it to educators and the public? The two years have to have been costly. What a mess.


LarryMajor 8 months, 3 weeks ago

We have spent nothing. Involvement is voluntary and, up to this point, required no funding by participating states.


SurelyNot 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks, Larry. Could you please clear this up? I was of the impression that Gwinnett had to participate in an approved testing program as part of Race To The Top. If PARCC was voluntary (glad we spent nothing) and it was not what Georgia approved, what would Gwinnett use? I am aware of some kind of waiver or alternative way to measure student learning. Just would like a person who knows what is going on to clear that up. Again, thanks.


LarryMajor 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Gwinnett’s RTTT application did include a commitment to implement assessments based on Common Core, but these tests do not have to come from PARCC. (The waiver you mentioned is for the federal NCLB funding requirement, which is a different animal.) The test we - both Gwinnett and Georgia - will use does not yet exist. It will be the test that Dr. Barge said the state will develop. This is in complete compliance with our RTTT application. Dr. Barge is a very sharp guy and when he says he can develop a Common Core based assessment for a fraction of what PARCC participation would have cost, I not only believe him, but also think other states will come to us to be involved. We will definitely bear the cost of implementing a new test, but it will be one other than that developed by PARCC.


pcjohn 8 months, 4 weeks ago

I'm confident that our "educators" will devise a testing procedure proving that Georgia ranks in the upper 10 States in academics rather than in the bottom of that ranking. It's good to redefine reality now and then I suppose.


SurelyNot 8 months, 4 weeks ago

@pcjohn: don't use academic ranking among states as a good or reliable measure, as the variables are so great from state to state and between tests, there is no way to accurately compare. There is no way to compare geographic locales because there is no way to ensure exposure/opp to take the tests is the same. You would have to write a comparison with so many controls it would be impossible to meet the requirements of the controls. The SAT is a perfect example. The NE schools have forever controlled who took the SAT- encouraging the tests for highest achieving students only...those who are truly college bound. In Ga everyone is provided regis materials and in many cases the students do not have to individually pay for the test, as opposed to districts in other state who do not pay for any tests for students. So, the economically advantaged take the SAT, ACT, etc. Economic status, parents' educational levels, etc. are variables that affect predicted test scores. You cannot possibly control the groups to compare apples to apples.


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