Opt-Out Debate Cop Out? Plus federal legislation and testing news

The Partnership for Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers has been facing some difficulties in recent weeks. The PARCC consortium is using $185 million in federal funding to develop Common Core-aligned assessments for U.S. elementary and secondary schools. Another $170 million was granted to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. PARCC is passing its funds along to Pearson Education, while Smarter Balanced contracted with McGraw Hill to develop new on-line exams. (More on these consortia.)

Full Education Town Hall of July 25 airs at 11 EST on http://www.WeActRado.com or, in the DC area, WPWC 1480 AM

Full recording of the July 25 edition

On Monday, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and State Supt. John Barge announced that the state is leaving PARCC. Last week Florida legislators asked Education Commissioner Tony Bennett to withdraw from PARCC. Undetermined cost was a major factor in their statement. So this week, PARCC released cost estimates roughly one dollar per student cheaper than Florida’s existing test.

Florida’s decision and any effect on the consortium is still uncertain, but observers note that Florida has been handling money for PARCC. Membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has also fluctuated somewhat.

Federal Legislation

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Student Success Act. The act rewrites No Child Left Behind. It could be first major piece of education legislation passed by Congress in 12 years. The House bill was passed by a vote of 221 to 207 with no Democrat voting for it. The Senate’s “Strengthening America’s Schools Act”, just out of committee, is quite different. (Senate committee statement; House committee statement.)

The Alliance for Excellent Education held a webinar on July 24 to review and compare the two bills. A powerpoint is available now, and the webinar itself should be posted within 24 hours.

Opt Out, Cop Out: Debate?

Finally, The Fordham Institute is hosting what it’s calling a debate on the national movement to opt out of testing. Called, “Opt Out or Cop Out,” the forum includes no one advocating for reining in high-stakes testing. “Your panel is the equivalent of having a group of Wall Street bankers to discuss the Occupy movement,” one educator posted in response to the announcement. It airs this afternoon at 3:30 EST.

The Education Town Hall is broadcast Thursdays at 11 a.m. (Eastern) on We Act Radio.

Listen on-line at We Act Radio or, in the Dc Metro area, on the AM dial: WPWC 1480 AM

Full recordings are archived for later discussion and sharing.

Join the (live) conversation, 11 a.m. to noon, by calling 202-889-9797.
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