SCRG release about PACT

Here’s the SCRG release about PACT that will be referred to in my column Sunday (I tried to linking to it on the Web but didn’t find it at the SCRG site):

Senators Declare PACT Dead
Contact: Neil Mellen
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Across South Carolina, students began taking the PACT test this week.
The PACT is an expensive and outdated test that lacks the child-specific
diagnostic data required by teachers. Unlike tests used in other states,
PACT is South Carolina specific, and doesn’t provide educators with a
comparison of our schools to regional and national test scores.
Lawmakers and educators have long agreed that PACT ought to be replaced,
but Superintendent Jim Rex (D), who campaigned on a promise to reform
assessment in 2006, has been unwilling to make the change. Instead, Rex
is working with Bob Walker (R) of Spartanburg to push through a
controversial bill, dramatically weakening South Carolina’s precedent
setting accountability laws.
Thankfully, members of the South Carolina Senate have called Rex’s bluff.
Thursday, Senators reached an agreement on an amended version of the
House Bill, which includes specific language eliminating the PACT in
July of 2008.
“Eliminating the PACT this year frees the state to move forward on a new
accountability system,” explained Senator Greg Ryberg, Republican from
Unlike the House version, the Senate is not looking for the Legislature
to micromanage the testing process. Senators made it clear:
responsibility for creation and administration of assessment belongs
with the State Department of Education, the State Board of Education,
and the Education Oversight Committee.
Writing to an open letter to Jim Rex earlier this month, Senator Kevin
Bryant (R) of Anderson expressed frustration about the fact that
Superintendent Rex was unwilling to replace PACT on his own.
“The department you administer holds the responsibility for the PACT
test and might have as early as January 2007, begun the elimination of
the PACT, but instead decided to extend the PACT for another year
(2008). I remain frustrated as to this series of decisions.”
While Rex initially responded to calls from Bryant and others with more
political posturing, final passage of this Senate bill will force him
into action. The Senate bill also prevents an unnecessary expansion of
standardized testing for first and second grade students, children most
experts agree won’t benefit from this type of assessment.
South Carolina’s students deserve an effective test. With a 47 percent
high school graduation rate and 49th placed SAT scores, it is clear that
public schools require an accountability system that helps teachers do
their job. Private schools in South Carolina, and public schools in
other states, have found commercially developed tests such as Stanford
10, Iowa Test of Skills, MAP, and Terra Nova can do just that. Moving to
an existing standardized test would also save millions of dollars in
assessment spending, ensuring more money reaches the classroom for

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