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Md. among states still committed to testing consortium

The leaders of a consortium of states trying to create common student tests for elementary through high school grades are battling defections.

Last week, Georgia said the upcoming tests now being created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) are too expensive at $25 to $29 a test and decided to drop out. 

This week it is Indiana as the governor said his state is bailing as well.

Florida leaders also are discussing whether to continue.

But PARCC leaders, apparently trying to stem concerns, said in a telephone call with reporters on Monday that the consortium isn't falling apart. Fourteen states, including Maryland, and the District of Columbia have committed to participating in the field tests next school year and giving the real thing in the 2014-2015 school year.

PARCC started out with 20 members, but Mitchell Chester, a state school chief from Massachusetts and PARCC commissioner, said expected some states to drop out. "We are on time and on task. We are developing our summative assessments to field tests in the spring. We are making substantial progress on all fronts and are hitting all milestones to get us to the finish," he said. Other state schools chiefs emphasized the quality of the new tests, and said they would not be fill in the bubble or multiple choice tests. Instead, they said the tests will focus on critical thinking and would require writing.

Eventually, the tests will be taken by all students online, but many school systems in Maryland do not have the technical infrastructure that would allow them to do so.

In addition to Maryland, the states that are committed to continuing include Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana and Arkansas.

The PARCC assessments are being built to go with the common core standards, which more than 40 states have adopted. 

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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