Illinois superintendent of schools Tony Smith missed a chance to spin PARCC results.
From: DONOVAN STEPHANIE <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 10:58 PM
Subject: AN URGENT MESSAGE FROM THE STATE SUPERINTENDENT
To: DONOVAN STEPHANIE <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: SMITH TONY <email@example.com>
On behalf of State Superintendent Tony Smith, I forward to you the following message:
Hello superintendents, principals, teachers, and staff,
I’ve heard from many of you asking why the final PARCC data, embargoed until Friday, is already out tonight. I’ve also been asked why ISBE lifted the embargo without communicating with you.
I’m completely committed to supporting every district to use the PARCC data as a new baseline and not to get into a narrative about punishing districts. I’ve taken whatever steps I could to communicate that. However, today we did not do a good job ensuring you had all the support you need.
We were told by a reporter today that they were releasing data early because they believed they had a right to. After that conversation happened, one of our staff, to honor relationships with those in the media that have been working hard to understand the whole story, spoke to a couple reporters and then sent a note saying:
“Per our conversation I am lifting your embargo on the 2015 PARCC data. You are able to proceed with your story. Please call with any questions you may have.”
I understand how frustrating and infuriating this is. As much as I wish this had not happened, I will also say that we’ve been up front about the data and shared as much as we could as soon as we could. There is nothing overwhelmingly new or different. The MAJOR issue for me is that you lost your chance to tell your story first. That was my full intention and I apologize that we took that opportunity from you.
This will have different impact in different communities. I know this is not how any of us wanted this to go. We will redouble our efforts to get tools and messaging into your hands.