Students throughout New Jersey will face a brand-new standardized test beginning in the Spring of 2015. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), is a computer-based assessment of math and language arts skills for students in grades 3-8 and 11.
PARCC replaces the NJASK for third through eighth graders and the HSPA in grade 11.
At Monday’s Board of Education meeting, Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Susan Grierson presented an overview of PARCC.
The district has put together an FAQ, attached here as a PDF.
Key points to take away:
- Student scores will NOT be used for academic placement purposes for the 2015-16 school year.
- The PARCC will be administered in two sections: beginning March 2, 2015 and beginning April 27, 2015, for a total of nine days.
- The testing is all done online using Chromebooks; elementary school students have been practicing their keyboarding skills through Learning.com. Students can also practice at home by going to the website.
- Science test will still be pen-and-paper.
- Accommodations will be made for students who need them.
Is the district ready for PARCC? SOMSD currently “meets and exceeds all recommendations provided by PARCC and the New Jersey Dept. of Education,” according to the FAQ.
“We are preparing a very extensive plan,” said Grierson at the meeting, adding that there was “a lot to figure out.” She said there was a fine line between making parents and students anxious, and being prepared.
Regarding accommodations for students who have 504s or IEPs, Grierson said, “I feel confident we are in the place we should be in.”
Grierson said that parents may not opt their children out of the test. “State law requires students to take the test,” she said and the district is not “obligated to provide alternative educational activities.”
The state requires that districts have at least 95 percent of students taking the test, or districts could potentially lose state or federal funding.
According to the state, the district is obligated to administer the exam to all students. District spokeswoman Suzanne Turner told The Village Green that if parents keep their children home from school on a testing day, the students will be marked absent.
The district’s senior leadership team is currently discussing what to do about the possibility of students opting out, Turner said. “We plan to follow guidance from the state,” she said.
Board member Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad said parents should know the test was solely to assess a baseline for the district. “Let’s alleviate people’s anxiety,” she said.
Grierson agreed, and said the district was in the process of putting together a memo for students explaining more about the test.