Illinois House committee to hold hearing on controversial test mandate. The House Education – School Curriculum and Policies Committee will meet on Wednesday, February 25, to take testimony on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test mandate. The hearing is scheduled to be held at 4:00 p.m. in Room 114 of the State Capitol.
House members on the 26-person committee are expected to hear concerns from affected parents, teachers, and representatives of school districts. Many people are opposed to both the new test and to the way it is being implemented here in Illinois. Educators have raised concerns about inadequate technology, lack of testing infrastructure to match the spaces required to administer the test, overall school funding issues as they intersect with this test mandate, and issues of student preparation for the test. Procedural challenges include questions of whether this test has been sprung on Illinois school districts, teachers, students, and parents and whether they received adequate warning of this new mandate.
Defenders of the test assert that many notifications of this test mandate went out to school districts. They further assert that contracts have already been signed to administer the test and that the test is being enforced by a hard mandate from the federal Department of Education. Sections of federal law direct the Department to withhold major subcategories of federal school aid from the school districts of a state that is not in compliance with nationwide testing mandates.
Concerned parties point out that many of the State’s school districts have experience administering other tests. These tests are apparently no longer valid under the PARCC mandate. Although many school districts would like to have agency in choosing between categories of tests to meet their testing mandates, the old tests have been “retired” and the current PARCC mandate does not allow them to do so. This and other questions are expected to be discussed at the February 25 hearing.