This week, Bartow County Superintendent John Harper and Cartersville Superintendent Howard Hinesley weighed in on the decision to opt out of PARCC.
“[PARCC] has been an issue for the state of Georgia and in particular, rural school systems, and even Bartow who is pretty far along in having equipment in our schools to be able to test online,” Harper said. “We don’t have any idea where the [new] assessment is coming, but it still doesn’t mean we’re not involved with Common Core and Georgia Performance Standards ...”
Harper cited the cost and time required to test for PARCC as being a major concern for Bartow.
“We had been waiting on a decision on who would do the funding for PARCC, whether that was going to be the school system or the state ... and the cost was $18.50 [a student] for two sections ...,” Harper said. “And make no mistake [PARCC testing] would interfere with day-to-day instruction.”
Hinesley echoed Harper’s statements, saying his two major concerns also were cost and the amount of testing the PARCC would require. He said technology also was a concern for other districts throughout the state
“In South Georgia districts, [technology] was an issue due to things like bandwidth availability and so the decision to pull out was a positive in my opinion in that regard,” Hinesley said, adding that now the question on the minds of school officials is what is the next step.
He said, “I’m a firm believer that we need a rigorous test and I think the test shouldn’t be one that takes forever to take and puts our kids into constantly being tested, but it does need to be rigorous and measure the standards so we get a good measurement and be accountable to our parents and to the community. Having said that, there’s still a lot of questions about our [new test], like who is going to do it, who’s going to develop it — that we don’t know, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing answers that in the future.”
The press release further states, “Georgia will seek opportunities to collaborate with other states.Creating the tests in Georgia will ensure that the state maintains control over its academic standards and student testing, whereas a common assessment would have prevented GaDOE from being able to adjust and rewrite Georgia’s standards when educators indicate revisions are needed to best serve students.”
Barge said in the release the GaDOE will work with individual districts to help determine the makeup of the test.
“After talking with district superintendents, administrators, teachers, parents, lawmakers and members of many communities, I believe this is the best decision for Georgia’s students,” Barge said in the release. “We must ensure that our assessments provide educators with critical information about student learning and contribute to the work of improving educational opportunities for every student.”
Georgia was one of 22 states to join PARCC several years ago with the aim of developing next generation student assessments in mathematics and English language arts by 2014-15.
“Assessing our students’ academic performance remains a critical need to ensure that young Georgians can compete on equal footing with their peers throughout the country,” Deal said in the release. “Georgia can create an equally rigorous measurement without the high costs associated with this particular test. 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.”
The release states Barge was one of the state school chiefs serving on the governing board for the consortium, however, he frequently voiced concerns about the cost of PARCC. The assessments in English language arts and math are estimated to cost significantly more money than Georgia currently spends on its entire testing program.
Barge also expressed concerns over the technology requirements for PARCC’s online tests. Many Georgia school districts do not have the needed equipment or bandwidth to handle administering the PARCC assessments.
The release states, “As GaDOE begins to build new assessments, please note that our Georgia assessments:
• will be aligned to the math and English language arts state standards;
• will be high-quality and rigorous;
• will be developed for students in grades 3 through 8 and high school;
• will be reviewed by Georgia teachers;
• will require less time to administer than the PARCC assessments;
• will be offered in both computer- and paper-based formats; and
• will include a variety of item types, such as performance-based and multiple-choice items.”
“We are grateful to Georgia educators who have worked hard to help develop our standards and assessments,” Barge said. “We look forward to continuing to work with them to develop a new assessment system for our state.”