In various classrooms all across Illinois, many students will notice a difference in testing procedure as their focus will shift to a new exam being regulated by the state in the upcoming spring: the PARCC Assessment.
Many believe that PARCC is a testing company, when it is rather a cooperation of states working together to “build better assessments” (according to www.parcconline.org). A team of states recently formed together to create this PARCC exam, including many states from the Atlantic and stretching as far as Louisiana and New Mexico.
A common fear of the exam includes additional studying or preparation for the new exam, as colleges will indeed be looking at these results for college acceptance. However, this common perception is false, as the PARCC Assessment is state mandated and does not currently have an influence on a college acceptance.
“Of course, the ACT is a college entrance exam, and then the PSAE scores determined how well a school is preparing its students as far as “No Child Left Behind” is concerned for the state of Illinois,” said director of curriculum and instruction Tracey Landry. “[PARCC] is replacing the PSAE, this new accountability assessment.”
The procedure of testing will make an additional turn this year: providing exams on the computer. In the English sections, students will be expected to type out their responses, and in math, will be given a formula editing software to solve problems.
“It’s a more efficient way to collect information quickly and to turn around that data for use,” Landry said. “In the workplace, this is how you produce things and demonstrate your thinking. It’s part in partial to the world we live in.”
With this new assessment being distributed throughout Illinois also comes with its changes and challenges. The board is still unsure how exactly testing will take place, as PARCC is still preparing and polishing up any errors on the exam. It’s best to prepare students in the most efficient way possible to ensure a successful score.
“I don’t ever want to claim that we teach the test,” said associate principal of curriculum and instruction Jeff Schagrin. “But we want to make sure that we give the same type of rigorous level in all of [students’] classes to make sure when [they] see that test, they will say ‘okay, I’m ready for this.’”
The exam will have English and math portions which the students will demonstrate their understanding. The math department is aware of the upcoming test and has plans to prepare the students as well as preparing the students for the ACT.
“The teachers in AAT and AAT Honors are already thinking about how this will impact instruction in the spring. We’ll be deliberate about preparing for both exams in class, while working on new material during second semester,” said math department chair Kim Johnson.
“I’m focused on preparing students right now.”
The PARCC exam (The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) is designed to do exactly what is stated in its name: to further test a student’s knowledge and decide how educated they are as they venture off into the world after high school. There have been pilot exams last year with a selection of students, but ultimately, for the school to analyze the average rates of success after switching to this assessment, it will need to take a few more years.