Mississippi approves $8.4 million for Common Core tests

JACKSON — Mississippi’s state Board of Education has approved spending about $8.4 million on standardized tests aligned with the new Common Core state standards.

The board voted May 16 for the first year of what could be a four-year contract with a division of the British firm Pearson PLC. The money is Mississippi’s share of the cost of a multi-state testing group called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

Common Core is a set of standards for public schools. Mississippi and 44 other states signed on, although opponents have attacked the effort as a federal takeover of education. The federal government gave money to PARCC and another multi-state group to help develop tests.

Mississippi and some other states deployed PARCC tests as a pilot project during this school year. Local and state school officials are awaiting the roll-out of the full testing program in spring 2015.

Test scores typically dip any time a new standardized test is introduced. But James Mason, Mississippi’s state testing director, warned the state Board of Education the PARCC tests will be “probably twice as hard” as current tests.

Sunherald
5/20/14