Hutchinson seeks ACT in lieu of PARCC exam

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has accepted the Common Core Council’s first recommendation and has asked the state Department of Education to end its contract with Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

The council recommended the Arkansas Department of Education to not renew its contract with the administrators of the Common Core-tied test, which is set to expire at the end of this month, and instead enter into a new contract with ACT and ACT Aspire.

“I have accepted the recommendation of the Common Core Review Council that the state leave PARCC and use the ACT and ACT Aspire, pending state Board of Education approval and a contract agreement with ACT and ACT Aspire,” Hutchinson said in a statement.

The council justified its recommendation to make the switch on several bases, including “the national recognition of ACT; the comparability between states; the minimal time spent testing relative to PARCC (about half the time of PARCC); and the ACT’s relevance to students,” Hutchinson's office said.

Education Commissioner Johnny Key said the agency will begin pursing a contract with ACT and ACT Aspire to provide testing services for the coming school year, but added that the state will still receive assessments administered during the 2014-2015 school year.  

“I will ask the State Board of Education at its meeting on Thursday to consider formal action approving the transition to ACT and ACT Aspire. "Our primary goal is for all students to graduate from high school ready to enter either college or a career,” Key said in a statement. “We believe ACT and ACT Aspire assessments will be effective tools to measure how well we are meeting that goal.”  

The council is due to make its recommendation on Common Core standards later this summer after it finishes its listening tour around the state.