Today the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released preliminary PARCC results that purport that less than 30% of students in Illinois are meeting expectations in English and math. While ISBE has been attempting to manage public response by saying no one should be shamed by this, many will still claim that this shows that the majority of our schools, teachers and students are failing.
RYH firmly rejects this assertion and maintains that PARCC is an illegitimate measure of student achievement and, worse yet, a blatant waste of scarce resources in a state that ranks at the bottom of the nation for state funding of public education and near the top for inequity across rich vs poor school districts.
The PARCC governing board intentionally set PARCC's manufactured bar so that they can label the majority of students as failing. As many national media outlets reported last month, many of those setting the cut scores disagreed about the thresholds for achievement. This is not surprising because cut scores are disputable, subjective judgments, not inherent properties of a test. There is no such thing as the “correct” cut-score.
The company that created PARCC, Pearson, has still never released a technical document demonstrating that it is even a valid and reliable standardized test. Practice PARCC tests shared with public last year were deeply flawed. $40 million and 12 months later, we still have no evidence that PARCC tests are a useful measure of the Common Core State Standards or general student achievement. Many states agree. Nineteen of the 25 states plus DC that originally signed on to the PARCC consortium have dropped the test (only 7 states plus DC are now participating), vastly undercutting the intended premise of being able to compare states with one another.
Our state and city’s education leaders must stop using test scores to attack schools rather than support them. While PARCC is not high-stakes this year, we know from today’s ISBE board meeting that PARCC will be used to judge schools next year.
A test designed and scored to intentionally move the bar out of reach of the majority of students only further compounds the failed policy of defunding, closing, and privatizing schools.
RYH will continue to share information with parents on the right to opt their students out of this test and share the important update announced recently that there will be no financial penalties from the Feds for districts or schools that have high opt-out rates.