- The Mississippi state Board of Education voted to end its relationship with the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC) on Jan. 25, at which time it will begin the search for a new state test.
- Mississippi was a founding member of PARCC, one of two testing consortiums that received federal funding to create Common Core-aligned state tests. While Mississippi wanted to adopt a PARCC test, the board was uncertain about PARCC's relationship with Pearson PLC, which created the test for the consortium.
- New Mexico had selected Pearson to create the test, but, according to the Associated Press, Mississippi didn't like the fact that only one vendor was considered. The news comes a month after Gov. Phil Bryant clashed with Superintendent of Education Carey Wright over his desire to opt out of the Common Core.
This spring, Mississippi students will use the PARCC exam as part of the state's one-year emergency contract with Pearson. News of PARCC's working relationship with Pearson came out in May, when Education Week reported that Pearson would create some test questions and forms, provide participating schools with the the paper and online versions of the tests, meet with states to determine cut scores, and report and analyze the scores. A PARCC representative told Education Week that the initiative was of “unprecedented scale, in terms of states coming together."
This, of course, was not the first time PARCC and Pearson had worked together on Common Core-related implementation — the pair had already been contracted three other times during the rollout process. News of their relationship resulted in questions about bias, and in June, a judge ordered PARCC to place the contract with Pearson on hold while those concerns were investigated. While Pearson was the only bidder, nonprofits like the American Institutes for Research (another testing company) protested the decision, alleging PARCC showed favoritism toward Pearson that led them to refrain from even submitting a proposal.
The federal government granted PARCC and Smarter Balance massive chunks of money to create Common Core-aligned tests. The idea that this money was funneled to other massive education powerhouses in allegedly biased or unfair ways leaves a lot to wonder about when it comes to all of the money being spent on implementing the standards overall. It also doesn't sit well with many states that feel less agency in how and when their states must test.