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Illinois To Scrap Controversial PARCC Tests For High Schoolers

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 12, 2016 5:24PM

Brentano Academy in Chicago / Photo: Tim Boyle / Getty Images

The Illinois State Board of Education announced on Monday it will discontinue the controversial PARCC tests for high school students next spring. It will be replaced by a revamped SAT.

The ISBE discussed scrapping PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) with parents, administrators and unions before making the determination. Tests had been administered in the previous two years to some high school classes and all Chicago Public Schools students in grades 3 through 8. Those younger, non-high school students will continue to take PARCC reading and math assessments.

The Common Core-based test drew criticism for overloading students with excess testing and interfering with teaching amid an already test-heavy slate of the student calendar.

Implementation of PARCC was contentious, also. The Department of Education threatened to withhold $1.4 billion in federal funding if CPS failed to comply with its demand that all students grade three through eight take the hours-long test.

Within the city of Chicago, ten percent of eligible students did not take the test. "There was no element of skin in the game for the kids—they didn't know why they had to take the exam," Kevin O'Mara, president of the High School District Organization of Illinois, told the Tribune.

Tony Smith, Superintendent of Education, advocated the move in a written statement:
"District and school administrators overwhelmingly agree with ISBE that every high school junior should have access to a college entrance exam, a policy that promotes equity and access and that provides each and every student with greater opportunities in higher education."

Activists and education consultants welcomed the news and some also called for the abolishment of PARCC elementary tests as well.

The Chicago Teachers Union did not immediately respond to requests for comment.