The Mississippi Board of Education announced Friday that it was withdrawing from one of the two federally funded consortia tasked with creating new standardized tests aligned with the Common Core. It has hired Pearson to create new exams for this school on an emergency basis.

The state is pulling out of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which has suffered numerous defections in the last few years.  In 2010 there were 26 states aligned with PARCC;  now the consortium has fewer than a dozen states — including Maryland — plus the District of Columbia.  The defection of Mississippi underscores the continuing controversy over the Common Core standards and aligned tests.

Here is the statement on the Web site of the Mississippi Board of Education:

The Mississippi Board of Education today voted to withdraw from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium, which developed the English Language Arts and mathematics assessments aligned to Mississippi’s College- and Career-Ready Standards.

On February 2, the Board will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for state assessments aligned to the standards starting in the 2015-2016 school year. 

“The new RFP process will give the state the opportunity to seek competitive, multi-year bids,” said Dr. John R. Kelly, chairman of the Board of Education. “Our exit from PARCC will help ensure the process is open and transparent.  Any assessment vendor may submit a bid for the contract provided they meet the RFP requirements and their assessment measures what students are learning in our classrooms.” 

The Mississippi Department of Education has contracted with NCS Pearson, Inc. to deliver the 2014-2015 assessment as a one-year emergency procurement. This will remain the statewide assessment for the 2014-2015 school year. 

“The State Board of Education remains fully committed to maintaining Mississippi’s College- and Career-Ready Standards,” Kelly said. “This is our top priority.”

Mississippi’s College- and Career-Ready Standards are the highest academic standards the state has ever had in its history. These standards spell out what students are expected to learn in English language arts and math in grades 3 through 8 and in high school.

“We greatly appreciate the teachers, administrators, and the Mississippi Department of Education staff for their work with PARCC,” Kelly said.