Before we know it, we’ll be turning the page on March and spring break and moving into the part of the school year that always seems to fly by…. When our students in Grades 3–8 return to school in April, they will take the PARCC assessment (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) during the testing window of April 5–28.
Why do we administer the PARCC assessment?
I believe we’d all agree that an assessment that has authentic value for students and their teachers is one that measures critical-thinking skills and gives an accurate understanding of a student’s preparedness for the future.
PARCC assessment results bring a meaningful perspective on our students’ level of mastery of skills. The standards on which PARCC is based are aligned to college and career readiness–the future for the vast majority of our students.
Taking the PARCC assessment in elementary school is, in fact, preparing your student to succeed on the college admission exam he or she will likely take in high school. Indeed, faculty from approximately 800 colleges helped create PARCC. High-stakes tests such as entrance exams are a reality that your sons and daughters will experience as they move beyond high school to college and, eventually, their adult careers. Having familiarity with the format and multiple first-hand experiences at applying knowledge to solve problems on such tests is beneficial.
What distinguishes PARCC from other assessment tools?
PARCC assessment results give families and educators information about how their students perform not only relative to their District 96 grade-level peers, but also nationally. A “big picture” view allowing state-to-state comparisons of student performance is informative for guiding state and national education policy.
How PARCC measures mastery also merits consideration. For example, In the area of English/Language Arts/literacy, many states do not assess writing skills at all and few assess critical-thinking skills.
Likewise, many current assessments for math are in the format of choose-a-listed-answer “bubble tests,” requiring students to select and shade in the “bubble” beside the correct answer listed. In contrast, the math portion of PARCC uses complex problems and the requirement that students show how they solved the problem to measure their math understanding.
Also, information from the PARCC helps to hold all stakeholders accountable more effectively than many other state tests. The reason is that PARCC assessments meaningfully measure the skills and knowledge of students working not only at grade level, but also of students working below or above grade level. That is, the PARCC more accurately identifies students’ strengths and their areas of learning need–information important to the students, their parents, and their teachers. It tells the impact and effect of our core curriculum, our systems for intervention and enrichment, and our special education program. As a result, District 96 educators can and do delve deeply into meaningful data to fine-tune and guide their practice so that children working at all levels may receive the support they need to grow academically.
The PARCC assessment is an important one for all our students for the experience of taking it, the story it tells of your child’s academic strengths and areas for growth, and the review and refinement of teaching practice it makes possible. To learn more about the PARCC assessment, please see the following resources. If you have questions, please feel free to contact your student’s principal.