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By Joe Luppino-Esposito
Originally posted by State Budget Solutions on July 10, 2013

Oklahoma became the latest state to drop out of one of the two multi-state testing consortia that received federal funds to develop academic assessments for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Oklahoma will instead develop its own tests, according to State Superintendent Janet Barresi. This change is not meant to affect the state’s adoption of the CCSS. Oklahoma still intends to follow those guidelines and will, ultimately still test its students in a way that meshes with the CCSS. Rather, Barresi says that the concerns from educators, technological barriers and higher estimated costs all contributed to the state’s decision to go it alone when it comes to testing.

Until the recent change, Oklahoma intended to administer the tests developed by Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). PARCC and Smarter Balanced, the other consortium, received federal support to develop assessments, helping states defray the test-creation costs.

Now, however, Oklahoma says the costs of administering the test would be burdensome. PARCC requires that member states go to online-only testing by 2015-2016, which Oklahoma did not believe it could accomplish. Several districts are already having difficulty meeting the technological demands for the tests the state currently administers.

Utah was the first CCSS state to leave a state testing consortium when it departed from Smarter Balanced in August of last year. Earlier this year, Alabama announced that it was leaving both state consortia and opting to use the test developed by ACT, the same group that produces one of the two leading college-entry exams (SAT being the other). In June, Pennsylvania, which was also a member of both consortia, pulled out with little explanation. The state intends to use its own current testing services.

Other states may join the ranks. Rumors are flying that Florida may also opt out of the state consortium testing. Georgia has also found PARCC to be a budget-buster. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the new test will alone wipe out the current budget for education assessment, and the CCSS tests for only math and English. The state will have to allocate more funds to continue its own assessments in other areas.

These are encouraging changes and should help to allay fears of parents who were afraid that states were trapped into a federal education mandate. That simply is not the case, as we’ve said before. Even if states accept the CCSS, there is plenty of room for innovation and local control. As Alabama and now Oklahoma have shown, now is the time for states to step up and decide what’s really best of their students.

 

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