Mississippi Drops PARCC Testing

The Mississippi Board of Education withdrew the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium Jan. 16, according to the Mississippi Department of Education.

The PARCC consortium is a collaboration of states working together to create tests to accurately measure student success in alignment with Common Core standards. PARCC is one of two federally funded consortia given the responsibility of creating the Common Core assessments.

Mississippi is not the first state to abandon PARCC testing. Mississippi is now the 15th state to withdraw from the consortium since its membership reached its peak at 26 states in 2010.

The Mississippi Department of Education has procured a one-year emergency contract with Pearson Education to provide assessments for the 2014-2015 school year.

The department plans to issue a request for proposals on Feb. 2 in order to find a new test provider with whom the department can secure a multi-year contract beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.

“We need a quick turnaround on scores for remediation, teacher training, data studies, etc.,” said Lamar County Schools Superintendent Tess Smith.

“But, all those things are more expensive. It is my understanding that tests other than PARCC are going to cost the state at least triple the cost. It needs to fully test the standards. It should have some written response. We need to know that students can write and think, not just memorize things for a test.”

Cost will likely be a key factor in the board’s search for a new test provider. The Mississippi public education system has been underfunded by approximately $1.5 billion over the past six years according to education advocates.

“I just want a test that matches the standards that we teach,” Smith said. “The real problems are going to come when we try to make a comparison for growth. I hope that after this year we can keep the same standards and the same test long enough to see if students are learning.”

“I hope we will continue with a provider where our students can test online,” said Donna Rigel, Lamar County district testing coordinator.

“School districts around the state have invested heavily in technology to make this possible. Much of the student learning is now on computers so our assessments should be as well. With a transition period needed to use a new company, hopefully it will be decided soon.”

Rigel went on to say, “We have a very strong State Board of Education that strives to make the very best decisions for our students. We have been teaching quality curriculum and students have been taking standardized test for many years. It is unfortunate that this has suddenly become a political issue.”