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Gov. Hutchinson says he's open to accepting bids from new test provider after dropping PARCC


LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday he's open to Arkansas considering multiple proposals from standardized testing companies after he ordered education officials to drop out of an assessment linked to the Common Core standards.

A day after directing state officials to withdraw from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Consortium, the Republican governor said he believed there was time to issue a request for proposals for a new test to be administered next spring. Hutchinson ordered Arkansas to withdraw from PARCC days after the state Education Board rejected his request to replace the PARCC test with an ACT test.

"(Board members) have a legitimate point that we need to have perhaps an open bidding process on that, so that's the kind of discussion we're having," Hutchinson told reporters after speaking at the Little Rock Rotary Club.

Hutchinson said Monday that the 2010 memorandum of understanding with PARCC gave him authority to withdraw from the testing consortium but that it will be up to the board to decide which test to use as a replacement. The board voted against Hutchinson's proposal by 7-1, but the Republican governor will have three new appointments to the board for two members whose terms expire at the end of the month and another who is resigning.

Hutchinson said he hoped to make those appointments by the board's next meeting on July 9. He said his choice for the new board members won't depend on whether they support his decision to drop the PARCC test.

"I don't believe in litmus tests," Hutchinson said. "I want somebody whose heart is for education and for the children and will commit themselves to that."

The PARCC tests are based on the Common Core standards, math and English benchmarks adopted by a majority of states that describe what students should know after completing each grade. They were developed by states to allow comparison of students' performance. The Obama administration embraced the standards and encouraged states to use them, but Common Core has faced increasing criticism primarily from conservatives.

Hutchinson had called for dropping the PARCC tests based on a recommendation from the task force he formed to review the state's involvement in Common Core. The task force hasn't issued a final recommendation on the Common Core standards.

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