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School Issues: The PARCC Approacheth

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott School Issues: The PARCC Approacheth
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PARCC testing hits Ohio public schools this month. The acronym stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. It’s a testing project from the textbook company, Pearson, designed to assess student progress in the Common Core curriculum. According to the PARCC website, the tests come with a price tag of $24 per student, per test, plus an administrative fee.

According to the February 6 update from PARCC, the upcoming tests in Ohio will serve as a trial to “confirm” that things are working properly; unbiased research trials typically avoid vocabulary that suggests confirmation bias and its misinterpretations of data. Regardless, early reviews suggest that it will require a great deal of data misinterpretation to “confirm” that PARCC’s system offers a functional assessment tool.

While many superintendents have remained silent about PARCC testing, Matthew Miller, the superintendent of Mentor Public Schools has not. Mentor Public Schools is located on the north end of Ohio. Superintendent Miller testified before the Ohio Senate Subcommittee on Education last week. He noted that Mentor Public Schools is a school system that is technologically advanced, it has the bandwidth to serve its population during PARCC testing. Even in those optimized conditions, he cited the following problems in trial PARCC tests:

  • students booted off the system
  • 25 minute delay in log-in times (average)
  • entire classrooms or sections of classrooms unable to log-in
  • error messages
  • failures to record student answers
  • questions appearing and disappearing before students had a chance to answer.

The superintendent’s entire assessment of his district’s experience with PARCC testing can be found HERE (PDF). It doesn’t read like a confirmation.

Of course, testing, generally speaking, does have useful purposes. It is one way to measure progress in student learning. It’s also an extremely popular tool for identifying children who are gifted. Colleges use standardized tests as part of the admission process. In many contexts, standardized tests are celebrated and embraced by students and families.

But when it comes to the upcoming PARCC tests, some Columbus parents are pulling their students from PARCC participation. Mother of two, Christina McMenemy, is one of those parents. She says:

“I believe that over 10 hours spent on a test for 4th and 5th grade kids is excessive and stressful, especially considering this test has no impact on their grades or grade level advancement. After taking the sample tests on the PARCC website myself, I don’t believe that these tests are developmentally appropriate for this age group, either.”

McMenemy mentions an online form for refusal, similar to one found HERE (PDF).

February’s tests will be the first of two rounds of PARCC testing for Ohio students, the next batch will arrive later this spring. You can learn more about PARCC and view sample test questions at www.parcconline.org.

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