Recently Parcc, Inc. reported student performance differences on the Spring 2015 PARCC® assessments based on the mode of testing: online or paper. Benjamin Herold summarized the findings in two recent Education Week articles. He reported that the pattern of lower student performance for those taking the computer-based tests was most pronounced in English Language Arts and middle- and high-school mathematics (Herold, 2016a). Parcc, Inc. has not yet released research evidence or announced a plan to conduct research that may explain the mode differences. Herold reported that Parcc, Inc. is asking participating states to examine the differences and draw conclusions appropriate for their context.
When I learned that Linda Darling-Hammond, an educational researcher and policy advocate at Stanford University, was taking on the role of President and CEO of Learning Policy Institute, I was curious about the new organization and what its goals might be. So I did some research and found several articles that reveal her views on state educational accountability systems. One of the new institute’s goals is to work with states to put these views into practice.
On September 25, 2015 the United States Department of Education (USDOE) released revised guidance for the peer review of state assessment systems. The guidance will be used during a new round of federal peer review that will start next year. The purpose of the guidance, says USDOE, is to “support States in meeting statutory and regulatory requirements under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)” (USDOE, 2015). The new guidance comes 15 years after the start of the federal peer review process and more than six years after the last revision to the USDOE’s guidance.