Are they hiding unfair, harmful testing practices?
May 19, 2016
The following letter was sent to all members of the US House and Senate education committees:
Parents Across America is very concerned about recent threats of legal action by the PARCC testing company* against an anonymous teacher and social media users who shared and discussed parts of a fourth grade PARCC reading selection.** The text was two grade levels above the test-takers’ grade and the questions seemed inappropriately complicated for a 9-year-old: “Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response.”
This is not the first time that PARCC tests have been criticized for being too difficult. Parents in Chicago analyzed online sample PARCC tests in 2014 and concluded that many of the questions and expectation levels were “absurd.”*** In 2015, the New Jersey teachers’ union reported that “Adults who have taken the practice test online are pretty shocked by the way the questions are designed and worded. They find them to be confusing, misleading.”****
We are especially disturbed by the test makers’ efforts at intimidation to maintain test secrecy, given the ongoing concerns being raised about the level of difficulty of the PARCC and SBAC tests. Their actions simply strengthen suspicion that these tests are designed to label our children and our schools as failures in order to push for more privatization of public education.
We urge you to support open, transparent evaluation and oversight of any tests that are used as a part of compliance with federal law in order to assure that they are fair and appropriate.