Common Core Assessments

Arkansas Board of Education Votes to Drop PARCC

According to an article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the state Board of Education voted Thursday to sever ties with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). In a 4-2 vote, the board decided to use the ACT and ACT Aspire exams instead.

In a statement, Governor Asa Hutchinson lauded the board's vote, saying that it had “reached a final decision that I think is best for our students and teachers over the long term. It provides stability and aligns Arkansas with a nationally recognized testing system.”

Board member Jay Barth, who abstained from voting as a form of protest, said that he sees positive parts of the ACT test, but has "deep concerns" about how reliable it is. He added that continuing to use PARCC while investigating other options over the next year seems like the "best option," but it was not on the table.

According to Vicki Saviers, who also abstained, "We literally were handed one option and then basically told that if we don't do this option, it will be our fault that we don't have an assessment.” She went on to say that the board was told that only the ACT testing would clear the legislative committee that must approve it.

Education Commissioner Johnny Key opened discussion of the switch with a review of the benefits of the ACT, saying it would better prepare students for the ACT college readiness test. "This is something that the department takes very seriously and I know the governor takes very seriously," he said. "We must have an assessment for our students on an annual basis that meets the needs of Arkansas."

Debbie Jones, assistant commissioner for learning services for the state Department of Education, also spoke to the board, saying the ACT assessments provide better preparation in STEM subjects than PARCC does.

If the legislative committee approves the change, Arkansas will join Ohio as the second state to leave PARCC this month.

About the Author

Christopher Piehler is the former editor-in-chief of THE Journal.