New Mexico Ed Secretary is Now Common Core PARCC Chair

New Mexico’s Education Secretary, Hannah Skandera, has quietly been named the new chair of the PARCC  governing boards.  The PARCC is one of the two Common Core testing consortia. Skandera has replaced Mitchell Chester.

Mercedes Schneider caught this change recently, noting there was no formal press release:

At some point in November 2015, it seems that New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera replaced Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester as the floundering, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) governing chair.

Even the PARCC website includes no press release concerning the Skandera-Chester switch. However, one press release, dated November 12, 2015, and entitled, “PARCC Introduces New Testing Options for More States,” hints that the switch was coming:

States that make up the Governing Board of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) are expanding their offering in to allow more states to participate in the nations premiere assessment system.

Hanna Skandera, New Mexico Secretary of Education, speaking on behalf of the PARCC Governing Board said, “The states worked together to develop the highest-quality test the country has ever had. We now want to ensure that as many educators and students as possible can benefit from the work we’ve done.” [Emphasis added.]

The timing of the PARCC announcement about “new options for accessing high quality testing items” is noteworthy. That same day– November 12, 2015– Chesterofficially announced his proposal that Massachusetts create a MCAS-PARCC hybrid (as opposed to adopting PARCC and ditching MCAS, which was a bit conflict-of-interest touchy given that he was uh, the chair of the PARCC governing board).

The PARCC is run by publishing and testing giant, Pearson. Pearson stands to gain close to a billion dollars for the contracts across 14 states.

One might recall that New Mexico’s department of Education was embroiled in a lawsuit, filed by American Institute for Research (AIR) over PARCC being awarded the state’s pricey testing contract. The lawsuit claimed the bid was rigged and with Skandera sitting so prominently on the governing board of PARCC, that claim doesn’t seem so unrealistic.

AIR lost the suit and  PARCC retained the contract.  Also of note last year was the massive walk-out on the PARCC tests by students in New Mexico. Around the same time, Skandera was spinning a drop in test scores before the results had even been published