Fewer than three kids in a thousand have opted out of taking state-mandated tests in Illinois in recent years, but the introduction of a new test this year has at least a few parents in Evanston seeking to have their kids join that group.

The new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam will be administered in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 starting next week, and the Illinois State Board of Education says that any district in which fewer than 95 percent of students take the test will fail to meet its accountability requirements and will risk losing federal funds.

For Evanston/Skokie School District 65, Superintendent Paul Goren says, that loss could amount to $7 million — or roughly 7 percent of the school system’s total budget.

Goren says that, based on guidance from the state board, parents cannot opt-out of the PAARC exam for their children, but “they do have the right for their children to refuse the test. We will honor the request for those students who refuse the test.”

The state board says that while the PARCC tests will take somewhat longer to complete than the old ISAT exams, most students should be able to finish it about in about seven hours, which will be spread across several testing days.

A litle over two dozen parents have complained in recent days about the tests on the District 65 Parents Facebook group, calling the PARCC test “an incredible and unfortunate waste of time” or decring all of what they describe as “high-stakes testing.”

Additional reporting for this story by Evanston Now’s Charles Bartling.

Related stories

Opting out of PARCC proves murky process for parents, students (Chicago Tribune)

School chiefs sweating PARCC prep (Evanston Now)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. tough test

    my understanding about this, based on the news over the last couple of weeks, is that schools and parents have been opting out because the test is to hard. CPS opted out because was hard but caved in because of the funding issue.

    Parents and school districts should not be afraid to have yheir kids take tough tests.

    1. Try them yourself

      Though I doubt you will, SkipW, you are welcome to try out the tests for yourself. It isn't that they are difficult. They are badly designed, poorly implemented, and make terrible use of already scarce resources in our schools.

      Nothing about the online design of the exams is at all intuitive, and the material is boring (at the very least they could have given the kids intriguing material to work with, especially on the English tests). They were designed with little educator input by for-profit testing firms. The money that went to Pearson could have gone directly to schools.

      1. By comparison

        Speaking only about math assessments, the PARCC tests are more demanding than ISAT because they require some thinking not just answer selection. I believe they are better tests.They are not perfect, but it is important to start. Remember, they were field tested last Spring and D65 chose not to participate in that test. I do not believe that what you say about the test design is true. Math educators have been working on how to assess the new standards since (at least) they were introduced. I encourage you to look at the Dana Center and  Inside Mathematics. PARCC is a consortium and not owned or operated by Pearson.

        1. Pearson and PARCC

          Pearson might just be part of the consortium, but they are the sole portal through which you take the test. You must have access to their portals in order to do so.

          That said, let's look at one of the members of the consortium, Achieve, Inc. Who are they? Let's take a look! 'At the 1996 National Education Summit a bipartisan group of governors and corporate leaders decided to create and lead an organization dedicated to supporting standards-based education reform efforts across the states.

          To do so, they formed Achieve as an independent, bi-partisan, non-profit education reform organization. To this day, Achieve remains the only education reform organization led by a Board of Directors of governors and business leaders. This unique perspective has enabled Achieve to set a bold and visionary agenda over the past 15 years, leading Education Week in 2006 to rank Achieve as one of the most influential education policy organizations in the nation.' –

          Why do I not see 'primary and secondary public school educators' listed there? Just governors and business leaders. Who are the primary funders of Achieve? Mostly for-profit corporations, with a few trusts thrown in there:

          If PARCC is so rigorous and necessary, why aren't private schools and charter schools being made to take it? If you don't believe that the design of the test is poor, then sit down like I did and take the sample test. Especially the English test. Marvel at the unnecessary scrolling you need to do, and the obtuse questions with poor construction and badly-defined goals.

          If you would like a nice, dry, numbers-driven analysis of why the language portion of the PARCC is problematic, feel free to peruse the following, where the PARCC exams are broken down by other testing metrics, and shown to be possibly deliberately setting goals far above given grade levels:

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