Step Right Up to PARCC/Skandera’s Bait and Switch

“Don’t our kids and their parents deserve to know how they stack up against students in other states when it comes to subject matter mastery and college readiness?” — from Albuquerque Journal Editorial, October 22, 2015

“PARCC announced Thursday that it will now offer states the option of buying parts of its testing system and choosing their own vendor. Previously, states could purchase only the entire system, and they had to use Pearson for test administration.” — Catherine Gewertz, EdWeek Blog, November 12, 2015

So much for “stack up against students in other states.”  It’s every state for itself…again.

Perhaps prime among arguments for the poorly selling snake oil that is PARCC was the idea that not only would we have a “Common Core” of curriculum across the United States, with PARCC we’d also have a “national test.” Well, the snake oil is selling in fewer and fewer states, and now, to keep the PARCC market from complete collapse, the idea of a “national test” has been unofficially dumped.

Let’s let executive vice-president PARCC salesperson PARCC governing board member Hanna Skandera explain:

New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera, a member of PARCC’s governing board, said in an interview that PARCC had made the change in response to feedback from states that have been asking for more options. They timed the new choices so that states could consider them as they enter the procurement cycle for assessments for 2016-17, she said.

I hardly need point out that “more options” means different test questions designed by different vendors who will, naturally, think their questions “better.” In other words, completely different questions. In other words, each state gets their own test.  In other words, that “stack up against students in other states” promise? Ah, not so much.

One might even connect the dots further and conclude that “more options” leads back to the same awful, horrible, hideous, “soft bigotry” (that Journal editorial quote will stick with us for quite a while) system we supposedly had prior to the glorious idea that was “Common Core” and PARCC. Well, it does, doesn’t it?  No, I’m sure Salesperson Skandera will tell us, repeatedly through the Journal and elsewhere, that the various tests will still “be aligned with Common Core.”

Nice try, PARCC.  Nice try. The extravagant twisting of the word “aligned” in these future assertions will surely be amazing in their contortions.

Unfortunately, not enough of us are noticing the twists and spins, as many in K-12 so loathe it all by this point we’ve stopped paying any attention whatsoever. We can’t do that, teachers/administrators.  We must not only continue to notice, but relish, these marketing moves which not only poison the stated goals of the snake oil sales force, but also illustrate just how remarkably desperate the standardized test industry is.

It’s grasping at new lies just like your most “exceeds expectation” liar.  Eventually the lies get so out of hand that new lies contradict old ones and fully expose what the real original intent was in the first place.

This has never been about a “national test” aligned to a “Common Core.”  This has always been only about the money.


So keep it up, Salesperson Skandera and PARCC sales crew!  Your desperation is making that original intent clearer and clearer every day, at least to those who pay attention. We’ll be paying attention, won’t we?






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