Arkansas State School Chief’s Mea Culpa on PARCC Test Scores

arkansas flagArkansas last week released its PARCC scores and they appeared to have defined proficiency at a lower level than what PARCC has defined. They decided to deem level 3 as proficient, that a student is college and career ready, when PARCC defined level 4 as proficient out of five performance levels.

The statement last week read, “The State Board of Education approved the score ranges for each of the five reporting categories as established by the PARCC consortium. For Arkansas schools, students scoring at levels 3 and above are considered on track for college and career readiness. Students scoring at levels 1 and 2 will need interventions to move toward college and career readiness.”

Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key added, “Across the state educators are working diligently to provide authentic learning experiences that reflect the rigor needed to be college and career ready, and I commend the hard work of these dedicated professionals. For Arkansas to succeed in educational attainment and economic development, all parents, students and communities must engage in conversations about college and career readiness. It is my hope that the results of these assessments will prompt such conversations throughout the state.”

The world of educrats exploded… So Key released the following statement on Tuesday:

Upon review of the communication regarding the release of scores from the PARCC assessment, it is apparent that we used language that left a misleading impression that Arkansas was backing away from high standards. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the action taken by the State Board of Education on Thursday was adoption of the cut scores for the high school level assessments as recommended by the PARCC states.

Any assertion that Arkansas has adopted Level 3 as demonstrating proficiency is inaccurate. We fully embrace the higher level of expectations reflected in our standards and our assessment system, as these are critical components of advancing our K-12 education along the path to excellence.

Our description of Level 3 and above as reflecting students being “on track for college and career readiness” was in error. We should have then, as we will from this point forward, used the actual descriptions from PARCC to accurately reflect the performance of students at Level 3 as approaching academic expectations for college and career readiness.

To assist parents in understanding the PARCC results, we have prepared the letter below that explains the levels and what they mean for students. It is our hope that this information will generate robust conversations between parents and educators.

You can read the letter here.  That is quite a change. The statement they released last week blatantly said the State Board of Education approved these score ranges and level 3 and above are “on track for college and career.” If this is not what the State Board decided which meeting?  That’s quite a mistake and doesn’t Commissioner Key approve of press releases going out from his department?

I also find it interesting that he says they will use the PARCC definition “from this point forward” as this is the one and only year they’ll be taking PARCC.

Arkansas Parents Keep Watch Over Your Upcoming Common Core Review

arkansas flagArkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday recommended in a letter that the Arkansas State Board of Education proceed with their review of the Common Core State Standards using the recommendations of his Common Core executive council.

Arkansas’ revisions of standards will follow a formal and public review, assessment, and public comment procedure. Hutchinson directs the State Board of Education to:

  • provide ample time to review and revise standards as needed,
  • change the name of the standards, if needed,
  • facilitate communication between the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), school districts, and parents regarding standards,
  • allow other bodies (e.g., legislature) to review recommendations as needed, and
  • safeguard student data.

Some things the key decision-makers need to consider.

  • Changing the name if you don’t change the standards is simply playing games with parents and citizens who have spent the time fighting against Common Core.  If you’re not going to be serious about changing the Common Core be honest about it and don’t bother changing the name.  Parents do expect different standards however so the end process should be standards that look vastly different than Common Core.
  • Do not follow the path of Kentucky and Louisiana having parents to go through an arduous public comment process online.  Make it simple, don’t expect your parents provide comments and a rewrite of each standard they object to.  Let parents comment on the Common Core math and ELA standards as a whole.
  • Have face-to-face public comment opportunities with parents, teachers and taxpayers throughout the state at times they are available to come.  The State Board should meet at different locations and don’t have meetings during the day or right when the work day ends.  That does not help facilitate good participation. These meetingssd should happen at night.
  • Look at and seriously consider quality standards from other states that predate Common Core.  I would suggest Massachusetts’ ELA standards and California’s math standards.
  • It would be best to start from a clean slate assuming all of the standards need to go, rather than through a process that seeks to just “tweak” individual standards.
  • Also measures to protect student data in the state should not rely upon FERPA as a guide as that federal law has essentially been gutted.

It’s Official, Arkansas Is Out of PARCC

arkansas flagA couple of weeks ago Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson ordered his state out of PARCC after some back and forth with his state board of education. The board Thursday complied (not that they had any choice).  They voted 4 to 2 with two abstentions to switch to ACT and ACT Aspire.

Arkansas Online reports:

The state Board of Education voted Thursday to switch Arkansas’ public school testing program to the ACT and ACT Aspire exams, reversing course less than a month after rebuffing Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s recommendation that they do so.

But the board that voted 4-2, with two abstentions, on Thursday in favor of the change next school year to ACT from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, was a different makeup from the one that decided at a June 11 meeting to stick with PARCC.

Two members’ terms expired and a third resigned after taking a position with the Walton Foundation; all three of Hutchinson’s new appointments — Charisse Dean, Brett Williamson and Susan Chambers — voted for the ACT switch.

Hutchinson in a statement early Thursday afternoon lauded the board’s vote, saying its “willingness to move away from PARCC and seek this new contract is an indication of the Board’s continued dedication to putting Arkansas’s students first”

Next move… repeal the Common Core.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson Directs Withdraw from PARCC

arkansas-state-flagArkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson countered a move by his state’s board of education to continue its use of PARCC after rejecting his order to use ACT and ACT Aspire.  Hutchinson sent a letter to Education Commissioner Johnny Key Monday afternoon directing the Department of Education to withdraw the State of Arkansas from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Consortium since he has not reaffirmed the state’s participation since taking office.

So unless the state board of education find some loophole around PARCC’s memorandum of understanding this should be checkmate.  As I have found with state boards of education lately their hubris knows no bounds though so I’m not going to be surprised if they try to find a way around this.

Arkansas State Board of Education Overrules Governor on PARCC

arkansas flagThe Arkansas State Board ruled 7 to 1 today to reject ACT and to keep PARCC.  Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson left the door open with this unfortunately even though earlier this week it seemed unlikely.

“I have accepted the recommendation of the Common Core Review Council that the state leave PARCC and use the ACT and ACT Aspire, pending state Board of Education approval and a contract agreement with ACT and ACT Aspire,” Hutchinson said in a released statement on Monday.

Apparently under state law they have this power I’ve been told, but wow what hubris.  The board consists of 9 members appointed by the governor.  There are two members representing each congressional district and an at-large member.  I’ve never heard of an appointed board overruling a Governor.

Arkansas Online reports:

But Education Board members criticized the process as rushed and said they had various concerns about approving the change. They voted 7-1 in favor of a motion not to make the switch with only board member Alice Mahony voting against it. The board then voted the same way to continue the PARCC assessments.

Board member Mireya Reith said her phone was “ringing off the hook” this week from teachers who felt left out of the process that resulted in the recommendation to shift to ACT tests. She also noted that the state board reached out and offered to have a representative on the Common Core review panel, which was led by Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin.

“That opportunity was not taken,” she said.

Board member Vicki Saviers said she was concerned by the lack of involvement from Department of Education assessment officials as well as having to approve the measure without a contract in place.

“Truthfully, it feels a little political,” she said. “It’s like, ‘We need to do something. We don’t want to get rid of Common Core, but we need to do something.’ … And the people that end up paying for it are the teachers.”

So the process was bad because some teachers called board members and the educrats were not involved?  Lt. Governor Tim Griffin objected to the board calling the process political.

Griffin said Thursday after the vote that he was “obviously disappointed” by the decision. But he defended the process the review panel followed, saying it was inclusive of all stakeholders, including teachers.

“Anybody that thinks that this council and its overwhelming vote was based on politics hasn’t been paying attention and hasn’t watched the 40 hours of hearings and hasn’t been in the listening sessions,” he said, saying that such a suggestion is an “insult to the 16 Arkansas citizens who volunteered” on the panel.

It’s clear that the Arkansas Legislature needs to provide additional guidance in the code.  An unelected board should never have this much power.  Hutchinson will be making three appointments coming up as two of the board members terms expire and other just resigned.

And in a Nod to Local Control… Oh Wait….

arkansas-state-flagI get that some school districts struggle and they do so for a variety of reasons.  Only elitist educrats think it’s a good idea for a state board to take over a local school district.

Think about this.  An unelected state school board dissolved an elected local school board.

This is America?

Yet that is just what the Arkansas State Board of Education did on Wednesday on a 5-4 vote, but rejected a local-state partnership compromise on a 4-4 vote with the chairman abstaining.  So five people decide it was best for the state to take over the Little Rock School District, scrap the elected school board, but keep the superintendent.

Hmm… doesn’t the superintendent have something to do with how poorly a school district is run?  I mean if you’re going to trample all over local control and scrap an elected board then shouldn’t you can the superintendent too?

You should probably can the teachers who needed a change in the dress code to force them to wear underwear as well.  Just saying.

This will make everything better I’m sure.  Just keeping pushing Common Core and make your teachers wear underwear – those are the keys to student achievement (tongue firmly planted in cheek).  What a disaster.

Karen Lamoreaux Discussing Common Core With Glenn Beck

I wanted to first welcome Glenn Beck viewers who are coming our way due to the plug we were given during the program.  Just finished watching the video that The Blaze posted of Karen Lamoreaux from Arkansas Against Common Core speaking with Glenn Beck.

Fabulous job Karen!  Thank you for your voice!  I also want to thank all of the Moms and Dads who are quietly fighting in the trenches.  Keep it up!  You ARE making a difference!

Update: Fixed how I spelled Karen’s last name. Sorry!

Arkansas Mom Takes Down Common Core

Yesterday Arkansas parent Karen Lamoreaux  gave a powerful four-minute testimony challenging the Common Core State Standards before the Arkansas State Board of Education.  You can watch it below thanks to Arkansas Against Common Core.