After several days of political wrangling over which assessment to use for public schools students in Arkansas, Little Rock School District Superintendent Baker Kurrus declined to weigh in on the debate.
On Monday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson asked Department of Education head Johnny Key to terminate the state’s contract with the PARCC test before a July deadline. His decision came despite the State Board of Education’s decision two weeks ago against Hutchinson’s call for a new contract with ACT and ACT Aspire instead of the Common Core-tied Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.
Speaking to several hundred people about his vision for the LRSD at the Political Animals Club in Little Rock Tuesday, Kurrus told the crowd in his first few months of leadership he’s paid special attention to the district’s six schools in academic distress, or “urgent” schools, as he calls them.
“Frankly, if we don’t realize we’re in this together, we’re never going to get out of this. Nobody gets out of this by themselves, okay. Nobody,” said Kurrus.
Kurrus said he wants to change a top-down leadership style that used to predominate in the district.
“That’s why I’m here, and I need everybody’s help. I know some people in the room don’t want me in that job. I’m still going to ask for your help. If you have a good idea, I welcome it. And I welcome that from everybody,” he said.
Regarding which of the two debated assessments would be best for Little Rock, ACT and ACT Aspire or PARCC, Kurrus told KUAR his district’s leadership is focused on aligning curriculum to Common Core standards and will be ready to work with either exam.
“We need to align our curriculum to those standards and then we need to teach to the curriculum and the presumably the test will measure the standards we’re aligned to and the curriculum we’re teaching from,” he said.
“We would love to know the starting point but we’ve got so much work to do at this point, we’ll leave that to the other folks to decide,” added Kurrus.
The LRSD was one of a handful of districts around the state to apply for a waiver to administer the PARCC test in paper form rather than online in its first year of implementation in Arkansas.
Kurrus took over for former Superintendent Dexter Suggs who left this spring following allegations he plagiarized his Ed.D. dissertation. Kurrus said he will release a more detailed plan for his goals for improving student achievement in the district later this week.