Yesterday the Illinois State Board of Education announced it was dumping the PARCC exam for high school students in the state.
They will still require its use in third through 8th grade.
As a temporary measure the state will pay for students to take the
ACT SAT in order to be in compliance with federal regulations.
Certainly the movement to opt-out and wide-spread criticism of the PARCC exam had something to do with the ISBE’s decision.
It is clear to me that nothing in the ISBE’s decision should cause that movement to stop.
How much this will actually change things remains to be seen. State law still requires that teachers be evaluated in part based on student measures of performance.
“There was no element of skin in the game for the kids — they didn’t know why they had to take the exam,” said Argo Community High School District 217 Superintendent Kevin O’Mara, president of the High School District Organization of Illinois.
“It threw off our whole spring calendar.”
“Skin in the game.”
What educator talks like this? This is the language of Wall Street, not classrooms.
Is the purpose of assessing instruction and student learning a matter of having students feel that they have skin in the game?
It is true that students knew that their own performance on this test would have no impact on them personally.
But what if it did?
The skin in the game that matters is students having ownership of their learning.
It is unlikely that the great educator John Dewey would talk about “skin in the game.” But if he were ever to use such a phrase in relation to the classroom he would mean student searching for the meaning of a good life and social justice, as creators of knowledge and engagement in participatory democracy.