Mississippi is changing the company that will test students on the state's new Common Core Educational Standards. Education officials hope that the new test will be in place by next school year.
At its monthly meeting in Jackson, the state board of education voted unanimously to withdraw from the PARCC test, the state's current student assessment, by the end of January. John Kelly of Gulfport is the Board Chair. He says they will begin accepting proposals for a new assessment early next month.
"The board really wanted more control over its assessment services," says Kelly. "Any company including all of the assessment companies that can demonstrate that they have an assessment that measures what students are learning in the classroom would qualify for to respond [sic]."
The contract's termination comes just a few months after a state contract review board said it would not approve a multi-year agreement between the department of education and PARRC's creator Pearson P.L.C. because the department did not consider other testing companies. However, students in Mississippi will still take the PARCC assessment this spring, after board members approved a one-year, emergency contract with Pearson last year. Superintendent of Education Carey Wright says it will remain unclear whether the state will buy an already made test or one designed specifically for Mississippi when the request for proposals, or R-F-P, is announced.
"If the company that responds feels that their off-the-shelf product can meet the requirements of the R.F.P. that is a possibility inside the R.F.P., and if not it will be a custom designed assessment meeting the requirements of the R.F.P. for Mississippi.
State leaders who have recently come out against Common Core Standards have applauded the board of education’s decision to withdraw from PARCC testing. Education Superintendent Carey Wright says education officials have not wavered on their commitment to Common Core.