ISBE to Revamp PARCC Exams

Feb 9, 2018

The controversial standardized tests known as PARCC could be on their way out after this spring.

The Illinois State Board of Education plans to request sealed proposals for a new statewide exam next week. That’s in response to concerns from teachers and parents about the hours-long reading and math assessment that most third- and eighth-graders failed.

PARCC is short for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. But having a long, clumsy name is just one of the problems with the test given to third- and eighth-graders. Teachers and parents complained that it took many hours, and by the time results came back, the kids had already moved on to the next grade. And last year, fewer than 40 percent of students who took it met expectations.

However, just because the state has decided to commission a different assessment tool doesn’t mean we’re going back to old-school bubble tests. Tony Smith, state superintendent of schools, says Illinois is in the market for an assessment tool that keeps the best parts of PARCC.

“It’s a post-Google world. I mean, questions about rote memorization and information recall are a thing of the past," he says. “PARCC is the highest-rated assessment, in terms of extended thinking, synthesizing information, removing bias from the questions — those are things that we are deeply committed to and remain committed to.”

The board will consider authorizing a request for sealed proposals when it meets next week. The request would set a cap of $36 million per year, or $216 million over six years, for the new test.