Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) announced that the Hoosier State will be withdrawing itself as a member of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Governing Board, effective August 12, 2013. For Indiana, this is one more step toward reclaiming control over what is taught in Indiana schools.
PARCC is one of the two national testing consortia aligned to the Common Core national standards. Twenty-two states signed on to PARCC in 2010, but within the last few months, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Georgia have withdrawn, and Florida is close behind. Pennsylvania is also signaling departure from its role in the consortium, and Ohio has stripped funding for the assessments, stopping implementation. In 2012, Utah kicked things off by stepping away from the other Common Core–aligned testing regime, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).
Indiana’s Common Core pause in May was the first step in the HoosierState’s efforts to jump off the national standards bandwagon. Pence signed a law that stopped the state board of education from implementing the standards while directing the state office of management and budget to assess the cost of transitioning to Common Core. It also created a state legislative study committee to examine the quality of the content of the standards.
After the pause, Pence stated, “Indiana’s educational standards must be rigorous, enable college and career readiness, and align with postsecondary educational expectations to best prepare our children to compete with their national and global peers.”
The meltdown of Common Core–aligned assessments such as the PARCC and the SBAC reflects a deeper issue with the push for common standards and tests. As decisions about what is taught and tested are further removed from teachers and local school leaders, problems are sure to continue to arise. As Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas explains:
Subsidiarity is the principle that decision-making authority should be delegated to the lowest reasonable level. Why? Because people in localized areas like states, communities, schools, and families have contextual knowledge that helps inform their decisions—knowledge that centralized administrators in far-away places (like, say, Washington, DC) lack. Subsidiarity also is justified because small communities more directly reap the benefits when things go well for their members and suffer the consequences when things go poorly, meaning community decision-makers have strong incentives to get things right.
Once again, the HoosierState has provided a blueprint for other states to follow as they work to regain control over standards, assessments, and ultimately, curricula. Pence’s decisions will help Indiana reclaim control over its standards and make decisions at the local level that are in the best interests of Indiana students.