On Friday, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) announced that Arizona will withdraw from the increasingly controversial Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a Common Core test consortium, of which it is a governing state.
As azcentral.com reports, Brewer said that, while Arizona has no problem with its relationship with PARCC, she wishes to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest when her state seeks bids to replace the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS).
The state originally adopted the Common Core standards in 2010, then essentially “rebranded” them as the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards. Now, the state needs a new assessment to test students on the newly named standards.
The Arizona State Board of Education received sample tests from five organizations, including PARCC, when it requested information about potential replacement tests for AIMS, which is currently supplied by Pearson.
Pearson, the world’s largest education company, recently won a contract, described as one of “unprecedented scale,” by a PARCC official, for which the education giant was the only bidder for services that include test delivery and item development for the PARCC Common Core test consortium. The contract, however, was halted this week by a judge in New Mexico when another testing company, American Institutes for Research, filed a protest alleging that the PARCC contract bidding process was unfair and biased in Pearson’s favor.
“(A)s Arizona begins its competitive bidding process for a new statewide assessment, it is necessary to withdraw from the PARCC consortium in order to protect the independence of our procurement process and prevent any perception of favoritism,” Brewer wrote.
Arizona’s superintendent for public instruction, John Huppenthal, who has served on PARCC’s board of directors, also signed Brewer’s letter, saying, “It debunks the myth that the standards and the new test are being driven by a cabal out of Washington.”
PARCC Communications director David Connerty-Marin said that PARCC expected Arizona to cancel its membership in the consortium.
“We knew this was the plan all along for Arizona because of the state’s procurement process,” he said.
Leila Williams, the state’s deputy associate superintendent of high quality assessments, said Arizona allowed 100,000 of its students, at 500 schools, to help PARCC field-test exam questions before the end of the school year.
“The process of being involved in the test development was helpful,” Williams said.
The state board of education is expected to review proposals for a new exam from test companies in August and to choose a test in the fall. The state legislature has approved $18 million for a new test.