Moving Beyond the Common Core to Develop Rhetorically Based and Contextually Sensitive Assessment Practices
Much political and disciplinary debate has occurred regarding The Common Core State Standards and the development and implementation of concomitant standardized tests generated by the two national assessment consortia: The Partnerships for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). In entering the debate about K-12 standardized assessment, the authors critique the top-down model of assessment that has dominated K-12 education and is currently being promoted by the national assessment consortia, and how the assessments associated with the national assessment consortia promote an interpretation of college readiness from a skill-based framework. Moreover, we examine PARCC by using content analysis to illustrate how it is an inflexible assessment measure that fails to capture the complexity of learning, specifically in literacy based on more than thirty years of disciplinary research. In contrast, using the construct of college readiness as defined by National Council of Teachers of English, National Writing Project, and Writing Program Administrators in The Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing (Framework), we champion the Framework as not only a viable alternative for conceptualizing effective methods for teaching and learning for college readiness, but also as a heuristic for developing rhetorically based and contextually sensitive assessment practices through the implementation of portfolio assessment.