Recently, the PARCC consortium made some practical choices about what it can really pull off:
PARCC’s original proposal featured a “through-course” design, in which tests would be given after teachers completed one-quarter, one-half, three-quarters, and 90 percent of instruction. Some of those tests were to be in the form of essays and performance tasks, and others were to be quick-turnaround, computer-based exams. All four required components were to be combined into one end-of-year summative score, which states would use for accountability required by the No Child Left Behind Act.
A fifth element, a test of students’ speaking and listening skills, was to be given after three-quarters of instruction but not included in the summative score.
At a June 24 meeting, however, the 15 states that make up PARCC’s governing board reduced the number of components in the summative score to two in each subject—one computer-based test and one exam of essays and performance tasks—and placed them close to the end of the school year.Roughly, it sounds like the choice was between a superb design very few would buy and a good one at a cost more users could manage--and like the choice may have been a good one.