Ohio cuts funding for PARCC Common Core testing. What's next?

Ohio's new two-year budget bill effectively prohibits the state from spending on tests developed by the Common Core's PARCC. Other states have taken similar stances. 

Ty Wright/AP/file
In this photo taken Feb. 12, 2015, sixth grade teacher Carrie Young, back center, answers questions from her students about an exercise on their laptops as they practice for the the Common Core State Standards Test in her classroom at Morgan Elementary School South in Stockport, Ohio.

On Tuesday night Ohio governor John Kasich signed the state’s two-year budget bill, which included a section prohibiting spending on tests developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a program which has provoked many complaints from educators.

As The Washington Post reported, PARCC is one of two federally funded consortia attempting to produce exams that will test American students on Common Core education benchmarks. These rigorous standardized tests were developed by PARCC with the intention of measuring “whether students are on track to be successful in college and their careers,” according to the PARCC website.

The tests are computer-based and include assessments in Mathematics and English.

While Common Core standards have been around since 2009, PARCC testing only recently entered the classroom. Students in 11 states and the District of Columbia participated in the assessment’s pilot run in the 2014-2015 school year. Several participating states, including Ohio, have expressed their disillusionment with the tests.

In Massachusetts, school districts were left to decide between PARCC and their established statewide standardized test program, even though the state originally agreed to administer the test to all districts. Only 54 percent of districts decided to give the PARCC exam, rather than the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).

Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas announced in June that the state would be terminating its agreement with PARCC and planned on contracting with ACT and ACT Aspire for the 2015-2016 school year. 

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order that allowed parents to exercise their choice to opt out of the PARCC exam. Last June Governor Jindal told reporters at a news conference that Louisiana wanted “out of the Common Core.”

The Ohio Department of Education released a statement shortly after Governor Kasich cut funding for PARCC:

“Our top priority is making sure Ohio has high-quality standards and rigorous assessments that ensure students are on the right path to be ready for college and careers. While Ohio educators have played a leading role in creating the PARCC assessments, we are committed to moving forward to build a seamless system that is easy to use and provides timely information to teachers and parents.”

But Ohio isn’t moving far beyond the college- and career-oriented PARCC exams. Their other options for testing include Smarter Balanced, the other Common Core testing consortium, and the ACT Aspire, among others.

And Kasich doesn’t seem likely to move away from Common Core standards. In January he appeared on Fox News and dismissed criticisms of heightened education standards. 

"The Common Core was written by state education superintendents and local principals," he said. "In my state of Ohio, we want higher standards for our children, and those standards are set and the curriculum is set by local school boards. Barack Obama doesn't set it, the state of Ohio doesn't set it. It is local school boards driving better education, higher standards, created by local school boards.”

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