ATLANTA — A decision made by state officials last week may change the outlook some for local school systems.
The Georgia Department of Education announced Monday that Georgia is withdrawing from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, test development consortium.
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.
Former Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews reported last year that each consortium would be able to compare individual classroom, school, district and state results with other consortium members in the 20-something states on an apples to apples basis for the first time in history.
Another 20-something states were part of another consortium called SMARTER Balance that will develop its own common core assessments.
“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,” State Superintendent of Schools John Barge said in a press 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.”
Mathews reported that several NCSS personnel attended a special training session at the Griffin Regional Educational Service Agency to discuss the new tests that were expected to be administered to students beginning in the 2014-15 school year.
Mathews noted at the time that the assessments would require the addition of more technology.
Barge expressed concerns over the technology requirements for PARCC’s online tests since many Georgia school districts do not have the needed equipment or bandwidth to handle administering the assessments, according to the Georgia Department of Education.
The GaDOE reported that Barge was one of the state school chiefs serving on the governing board for the consortium, but he frequently voiced concerns about the cost of the PARCC assessments. The tests in English/language arts and math are estimated to cost significantly more money than Georgia currently spends on its entire testing program.
“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,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in the press 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 GaDOE said it will work with educators across the state to create standardized tests aligned to Georgia’s current academic standards in mathematics and English/language arts for elementary, middle and high school students. Additionally, the state will seek opportunities to collaborate with other states.
State officials report that 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 the GaDOE from being able to adjust and rewrite Georgia’s standards when educators indicate revisions are needed to best serve students.
“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.”
In 2012, Georgia and several other states received waivers to free them from requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind Act and recently has implemented the Georgia College and Career Ready Performance Index.