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Helmsley Charitable Trust Awards $2.2 Million Grant to Parcc Inc. to Expand the Number of Students Prepared for College and Careers

NEW YORK, Nov. 17, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As states across the country transition to higher student learning standards in English language arts and mathematics, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust today announced a $2.2 million grant to Parcc Inc. to support the continued rollout of the PARCC state consortium's Common Core-aligned student assessments and expand the number of students taking end-of-year tests that fairly and accurately measure their achievement.

"The Helmsley Trust has been a tremendous partner and understands that quality assessments and quality standards go hand-in-hand – you cannot have one without the other," said Laura Slover, CEO of Parcc Inc., the nonprofit organization supporting the PARCC states in implementing the new assessments. "In particular, the Trust has focused on the successful implementation of the assessments – supporting additional involvement of teachers in the process, and the education of parents and the public. We are proud to continue this relationship with the Helmsley Trust."

The Helmsley grant will strengthen Parcc Inc.'s operational capacity as it manages the implementation of the new exams across PARCC member states and engages with non-member states that seek to incorporate PARCC content in their own state-developed student tests. This funding follows an earlier $830,000 award from the Trust that supports PARCC's collaboration with the NEA and AFT to more closely integrate teachers in the creation and implementation of the new assessments.

"I have had the chance to learn with and collaborate with educators from across the country to help teachers and students in my state realize the promise of the new standards," said Joanie Funderburk, secondary mathematics coordinator for Cherry Creek Schools in Colorado and a member of the PARCC Educator Leader Cadre. "From the student's perspective, the difference between the PARCC items and the old test questions is striking – students are demonstrating a deep understanding of the content, not just filling out bubbles. And we are already seeing that translate to higher levels of learning and achievement."

"We all know that tests alone cannot tell us everything about a student's knowledge and ability. But, if properly designed, they should provide teachers and parents with timely and precise information about the student's progress and what supports he or she may need," said Rich McKeon, Program Director of the Helmsley Charitable Trust's Education Program. "The Trust strongly supports the new PARCC assessments because they measure critical thinking skills and understanding of content knowledge. Students are being asked to reach higher, and they deserve more meaningful assessments of their progress than the old bubble tests that merely gauged their capacity for rote memorization."

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health, place-based initiatives, and education and human services. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations. Through its National Education Program, the Trust views education as a lever to advance both American economic competitiveness and individual social mobility. In K-12, the Trust focuses on ensuring all students graduate high school prepared for college or careers by providing quality instructional resources for educators and supporting the adoption and effective implementation of high academic standards. In postsecondary education, the Trust is primarily interested in increasing the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates who can participate in high growth sectors of the economy. The Trust also focuses on policy levers that improve postsecondary completion, particularly for underrepresented populations. For more information, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.

About Parcc Inc.

Parcc Inc. is the nonprofit organization established by states in 2013 to manage the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers consortium and support states in implementing the PARCC assessment system. These high quality, computer-based K–12 assessments in mathematics and English language arts/literacy give teachers, schools, students, and parents better information about whether students are on track in their learning and for success after high school. Parcc Inc. team members are nationally known for their expertise and leadership in standards and assessments, and many are former teachers and instructional leaders in K-12 and higher education. Learn more at www.parccinc.org.

CONTACT: Laura Fahey lfahey@helmsleytrust.org, 212.953.2814Source:The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust