We reported on the SBAC meeting here in St. Louis where one of the things the State Education Chiefs did was quietly endorse the Career Readiness Partner Council goals. The next day, the other consortia PARCC, also discussed the CRPC performance level descriptions. They were less cohesive in their viewpoints.
Edweek, with guest blogger Liana Heitin, reported on their meeting.
At what an attendee described as one of the milder governing board meetings this year, PARCC's K-12 and higher education leaders continued their work to define career readiness and agree on performance-level descriptors for the impending Common Core State Standards assessments.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers governing board has been at this for months now, as you may recall from Catherine Gewertz's previous coverage. Yesterday's meeting in Washington was no more conclusive than the ones before it, though it did bring a few career-technical education leaders into the mix—stakeholders who'd been absent from previous discussions. (Interestingly, the only representative of the career-technical field who spoke Wednesday sat behind the large table rather than at it—though it's very possible this was solely situational.)
During the two-hour discussion, the board reviewed the states' feedback on its proposed performance-level descriptors. There was continued back and forth about whether it makes sense to set Level 4—deemed a "college-ready" level—on a five-level test so that 75 percent of students who reach that level would be expected to earn C's in entry-level credit-bearing courses. Some members argued to change the C to a B, some pushed to change the percentage as high as 90, and others wanted to keep the descriptor as is. At some point the PARCC chair, Mitchell Chester, simply implored the presenters to move on.
The feedback also showed that many stakeholders want career readiness—not just college readiness—to be included in descriptors. As the policies are written, there's some thought they might imply that career readiness is a lower standard than college readiness. Some members also expressed concern that career readiness would indicate students are ready to be hired right out of high school. Mike Cohen, the president of Achieve, a Washington-based group that manages PARCC, allayed some of that anxiety. "Career ready means ready for postsecondary career training," he explained. "Without letting the precise words get in the way, does the attempt to define career readiness help resolve the issue about not using this as a job-placement or job-hiring assessment?" Members agreed that being clear with the definition is a must.
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Heitin also noted that in this meeting PARCC readily endorsed working with SBAC to make their efforts comparable.