US Ed Secretary Talks PARCC, FAFSA

Sep 15, 2015

Illinois students will get a hint about how they scored on the PARCC test — the standardized test based on the Common Core — when statewide results are announced tomorrow. State officials have warned that scores will be lower than with previous tests. But U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says it’s time for an honest assessment.

Arne Duncan at Fern Creek High School, Louisville, Kentucky in April
Credit " by US Department of Education / Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“It’s so important that we tell the truth to parents and to students about are they on track to be successful in college or not,” Duncan says. "And many states, including Illinois, dummy-down those standards to make politicians look good.”  

The PARCC test, Duncan says, sets a new, more realistic baseline that should inspire school districts to better prepare students for careers.

He’s swinging through the midwest on a Back-to-School bus tour, and will visit Williamsfield and Champaign tomorrow.

Duncan also talked about the new policy on FAFSA — the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The White House recently announced that beginning next year, applicants can fill out the form in October, using infomation filled in automatically from their 2015 tax returns. Previously, they would’ve had to wait until the following January to use the 2016 tax return — and had to answer more than 100 questions, by hand. 

“And we think just on making the forms simpler, we’ll have tens of thousands of additional young people going to college who thought they couldn’t afford it, who thought it was for rich folks and not folks like them,” Duncan says. "So we feel very, very good about this.”