Maryland schools will field test new assessments from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) this spring. The new PARCC tests will be aligned with the Maryland College- and Career-Ready Standards that began full implementation across the state this past fall.
What is PARCC?
PARCC is an 18-state consortium formed to develop assessments that will gauge student performance on new, more rigorous academic standards. Those assessments will be field tested beginning in March 2014 in Maryland and throughout the consortium.
What is Maryland’s role as fiscal agent?
PARCC received a federal grant to develop the assessments based on the Common Core State Standards developed by the nation’s governors and chief state school officers. Maryland adopted the Common Core, establishing higher standards in math and language arts, and joined the PARCC consortium in 2010. The federal grant transfers to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). As the fiscal agent, Maryland will pay PARCC, Inc. for direct services performed, oversee PARCC’s grant and contract management, and process invoices for payment by PARCC for services performed under transferred contracts.
Why is Maryland taking on this role?
Florida has asked to be relieved of its role as fiscal agent. The U.S. Department of Education cannot issue this type of grant to a non-state entity like PARCC itself, and it requested that Maryland serve as the fiscal agent on behalf of the consortium. Maryland is a charter member of the PARCC consortium and is deeply committed to its work to develop more meaningful assessments that will assess critical thinking and problem-solving skills in an in-depth manner. These are the skills students need to be ready for college and career-training without remediation. These skills also are highly desirable to employers.
What terms have been put in the PARCC contract that will protect Maryland?
There is a requirement to make a good faith effort to provide a performance bond. The performance bond protects Maryland from loss due to PARCC and/or subcontractor’s inability to complete the contract as agreed – a risk mechanism that secures the fulfillment of all contract requirements.
There is a requirement to make a good faith effort to provide a payment bond. A payment bond is a financial or contractual instrument, issued by a surety that guarantees that subcontractors will be paid for labor and materials expended on the contract. There also is a checks and balances process in place for both subcontractors and PARCC to report to MSDE separately for payment received and/or payment made for satisfactory deliverables.