BY: Joy Pullman | Heartland Institute

Last week, an ed pundit and a mom faced off to debate whether repealing Common Core had plunged Oklahoma into “chaos,” as pundit Michael Petrilli had asserted on Twitter. This week, new information suggests states clinging to Common Core are in for even more chaos than those that exit into a more productive course. From Politico’s Morning Education newsletter Tuesday:

… hiring people to read all that student writing [on PARCC Common Core tests] is expensive. So Pearson’s four-year contract to administer the exams bases the pricing on a phase-in of automated scoring. All student writing will be scored by real people this coming spring. The following year, the plan calls for two-thirds to be scored by computer. The year after that, all the writing is scheduled to be robo-graded, with humans giving a small sampling a second read as quality control.

The contract required Pearson to submit a proof-of-concept study demonstrating the validity of automated grading by mid-October. … So where’s the Pearson study? PARCC spokesman David Connerty-Marin told Morning Education it’s being revised – but he declined to say who had asked for the revisions or what they entail. Pearson wouldn’t answer any questions on the subject, referring them all to PARCC. … Connerty-Marin wouldn’t answer questions about whether a vote has already taken place or will be held in the future.

Ahh, look at all that transparency in government! Oh, wait … Common Core testing organizations aren’t technically government agencies, just federally funded and monitored. So your tax dollars are paying for psychometricians to muck about with students and not release the studies and votes that result. So we have no idea if these Common Core tests can even be graded accurately, or at what cost. Government of the people, by the people, for the people, right?

PARCC is not the only Common Core test in trouble. The other federally backed testing consortia, Smarter Balanced, won’t be ready for true tests this coming spring, says psychometrician Doug McRae
, who reviewed test items recently:

The odds are that if a student uses a random marking strategy, he or she will get a proficient score quite often. This circumstance would result in many random (or invalid and unreliable) scores from the test, and reduce the overall credibility of the entire testing program. …

California plans to use the cut scores recommended by the panels that met in October for disseminating millions of test scores in spring 2015. These plans are faced with the prospect that those scores will have to be “recalled” and replaced with true or valid scores just months after incorrect scores are disseminated. This is not a pretty picture for any large-scale statewide assessment program.

He says the 2015 tests, the first “real” Common Core tests nationwide that will replace state tests, cannot offer valid data and really will only provide the information necessary for getting real tests in 2016. This would eliminate, for four to five years, the ability to know how students are doing nationally in grades 3 and 5–8 (since NAEP will still test grades 4, 8, and 12). In short, further evidence indicates withdrawing from Common Core could create less chaos for children, teachers, and taxpayers than remaining in its clutches.


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