- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois State Board of Education officials are threatening to withhold funds from any school district failing to administer a new statewide exam to students.

In a letter to district administrators, State School Superintendent Christopher Koch says the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) examination must be given to all students except those who are exempted under law.

In the letter, also signed by newly appointed board chairman James Meeks, Koch threatened not only to withhold federal funds for impoverished schools, but also noted the districts could lose general state funds.

The U.S. Department of Education told Illinois officials that federal funds for the state would be jeopardized by a district’s failure to administer the PARCC examination, Crain’s Chicago Business reported (https://bit.ly/18CwA3H ).

Chicago Public Schools recently announced it won’t administer the PARCC assessment, a computer-based test, to the majority of students because of concerns about access to technology. The district could lose more than $1 billion if the state follows through with its threat.

“We are greatly concerned about it,” Meeks said.

Chicago schools officials haven’t commented on Koch’s letter. However, the Chicago Board of Education has expressed its support of Chicago schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s position.

State board of education officials have noted suburban Chicago school districts have also voiced concerns about the examination, but none have stated an intent not to administer it.

The PARCC exam is based on national Common Core standards that emphasize critical thinking and problem-solving. The increased use of standardized testing to gauge student performance has been under attack, with the National Education Association saying teachers and their schools are being unjustly judged by how students do on them.



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