15 Mar

Things you should know about the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC)

What is PARCC?

PARCC or the partnership for assessment of readiness for college and careers is a group of states partnered together to develop a set of common students’ assessments. Developing the PARCC is handled by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The assessments by PARCC measure the knowledge and skills that give students confidence and success in the main academic areas. Such skills include evidence-based writing, mathematical problem solving, and understanding complex texts.

Who should take PARCC assessments?

As such, students between grades 3 to 8, inclusive, are given the opportunity to take online PARCC assessments in mathematics and ELA, each spring. PARCC results are used together with other measures to create a broader picture of a child’s progress. The other measures include report card grades, teacher feedback, and classroom performance. So, with PARCC you can be sure that a child’s development isn’t just based on their scores in school but on a statewide standard that compares the performance of children from different schools.

How are PARCC tests designed?

PARCC assessments are intended to assess the member states’ Common Core State Standards. On the PARCC website, are ELA test specification documents that should help you better understand the design of ELA assessments. Also available to the public are mathematics test specification documents that provide test blueprints and claims structures that outline the goals and format of the assessment. They also give evidence statements that link the content of the assessment to Common Core State Standards.

How are PARCC assessments taken?

PARCC assessments are computerized and are completed online. For this reason, some of the questions are multiple choice. However, others may ask the students to plot a point on a graph, shade an area or slot in their answer to an equation. For language tests, students might be required to read short passages and write short essays.

Are PARCC tests harder than other standardized tests?

These assessments are designed to be more rigorous than the tests offered in each of the member states. Setting high standards is important because they align to the CCSS which put emphasis on reading, comprehension, and critical thinking.

What are the cons of PARCC assessments?

Well, many complaints have come from younger students, the cause of disagreement since the test format and questions are too confusing to them. Again, there are those who have an issue with the time it takes to sit and prepare for the tests. They tend to think that this time could have been put to better use. However, there is also the question of the resources used by schools to upgrade technology in readiness for the tests. Those who belong to this school of thought say the resources used are unnecessarily too much.

Some have also expressed fears that teachers will end up teaching for the tests and nothing else. Others say that there are too much emphasis formal texts in ELA as opposed to creative writing and literature. As another form of standardized test, PARCC may not truly reveal the student’s knowledge, skills, and understanding. As much as PARCC assessments include test items across different levels of cognitive ability, there is no provision for the assessment of students with special needs, leaving out a key element of any assessment system. The requirement that students use technology may disadvantage many students from poor and low-income areas who do not have as much experience using computers.

What are the benefits of PARCC assessments?

The proponents of PARCC assessments believe that with more rigorous tests, students will be better prepared for colleges and careers. They are based on the CCSS standards that require students to show problem-solving skills. As such, the tests are designed to ensure students know how to solve problems rather than simply memorizing the correct answers. A comparison can also be drawn between students’ progress in the states, which administer PARCC tests, thus creating a common standard of assessment between different states.

Some of the proponents of these tests have also observed that PARCC tests make teachers more accountable. Holding the teachers in charge of tests provide a means of gauging and improving performance in the entire class. Since the tests have been created in collaboration with over 800 colleges, they ensure that students who graduate from high school are ready for college. Parents and teachers may also use PARCC assessments to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the students and any additional instruction required.

PARCC assessments are also so flexible that schools in their administration need not much time and resources. As others take the tests, teachers and students who are not taking them can be in class doing meaningful learning. The supporters of these tests also say that it is easy to tie performance in PARCC tests to the money spent by various states on education.