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State to create its own tests to assess Common Core standards

Georgia calls national consortium's efforts too expensive

POSTED: July 23, 2013 12:37 a.m.

Georgia leaders announced Monday the state will develop its own assessments for the Common Core standards, opting out of a national consortium in the process of creating those tests.

Georgia was one of 22 states to join the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers years ago with the aim of developing Common Core assessments in math and English/language arts by 2014-15.
While this move does not impact the Common Core standards set for those subjects, the state is now responsible for those subject assessments.

“We have been informed that we will have new assessments,” said Sarah Bell, director of academic programs and standards with the Gainesville school system. “They will be more rigorous, and kind of what we’ve already seen with that in the Coordinate Algebra (End of Course Test) this year.”

Bell said that the expectation now is that the state-created tests will be in place during that same 2014-15 time frame.

“Obviously, it will not be PARCC, but it will be of a different quality and more rigorous than what we are administering right now,” she said.

There were two points made about PARCC, with one being the cost of the tests, running as high as $29.50 per student. That could have cost up to $27 million for Georgia, well over the $25 million budgeted for all testing.

“...Those costs were only for English/language arts and math, not all the other areas we have to test,” said Matt Cardoza, communications director for the Georgia Department of Education, via email.

Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield called it a “necessary move” by the state.

“I’ve been concerned all along that there’s absolutely no way the state, in the economic condition that we’re in, is going to be able to afford (these assessments),” he said. “So, I don’t know that it’s good or that it’s bad. I think it’s pragmatic and it’s necessary.”

Cardoza said it was not immediately known how much money the state would save by this move.

Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said the move was “not unexpected.” She brought up the second point about the PARCC assessments, being that they were not technologically feasible for many school systems across the country. The tests were to be administered via computer.

She said some states were reporting younger children in particular were having difficulty completing the tests this way.

“They had never expressed themselves straight out through word processing,” she said. “Most of their writing had been done with paper and pencil.”

Ultimately, Dyer said she expects the state-created assessments to be similar to PARCC.

“Our state was a member of the PARCC consortium for quite a while,” she said. “(The state) participated in a lot of its decision-making. Georgia was an active member of the consortium. We have very knowledgeable people in our state and our state department in regard to the PARCC.”

Schofield said Minnesota serves as an example of a state that came up with its own English/language arts test, calling its set of assessments “high quality.”

A news release from the state DOE said a “common assessment” would have prevented the state from “being able to adjust and rewrite Georgia’s standards when educators indicate revisions are needed to best serve students.”

State School Superintendent John Barge was one of the state school chiefs serving on the governing board for the consortium, the news release said, “but he frequently voiced concerns about the cost of the PARCC assessments.”

According to the PARCC website, parcconline.org, the partnership is funded by a federal grant for $186 million, through the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top. Georgia is not the first state to drop out. Alabama, North Dakota and Pennsylvania have dropped out, and legislative leaders in Florida have asked that state’s education commissioner to withdraw.


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