And You Thought the NJ ASK And HSPA Were Bad

Ryan McLaughlin, Contributing Writer

The PARCC

This year, as you may have heard, is the first year of the PARCC- the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The PARCC is replacing tests such as the NJ ASK and HSPA, and will be administered to grades 3-11 via desktops, laptops, and tablets. It will test students’ knowledge of mathematics and English language arts, corresponding to the rigorous Common Core State Standards, which have been introduced to forty-three states, Washington D.C., and four territories.

 

Advantages and Disadvantages

The most prominent concern regarding the PARCC is its demanding technological requirements. Not only does the PARCC require all students to have access to a computer or tablet at the same time (with headphones for the English portions), but also that every device is up-to-date with technological standards. In fact, according to an Education Weekly survey, as of May 2014 only nine of the twenty-two participating states plan to administer the PARCC due to concerns over length and cost. In addition, according to the Education Law Center, New Jersey school districts have reported spending $255,000 to $927,000 in preparation for the PARCC.

In an interview, one Morris Hills student stated that she believed that some students should be allowed to take the PARCC on paper if they are less skilled on or do not have access to computers. Another student thought taking the test on the computer would improve students’ scores, as points cannot be deducted for illegible handwriting.

 

Student and Teacher Opinions and Surveys

In a Hilltopper survey, all but one of students asked if they had heard of the PARCC answered “yes”  but none knew what PARCC stands for and most had minimal knowledge about the test. Furthermore, all students had a negative outlook on taking the PARCC this spring.

When asked about the difficulty of the PARCC, some students thought that the test will cause them to “stress out more.” Another student believed that the PARCC’s greater difficulty would cause students to generally score lower.

Mrs. Santucci, a mathematics teacher at Morris Hills, said that she first heard about the PARCC around 2010 and did not know very much about it at first. She is confident in students’ abilities on computers and does not think the curriculum changed much due to the institution of the PARCC, other than methodology. A concern Mrs. Santucci does have is that schools will focus on testing too much, and the PARCC’s “one-size-fits-all” approach.

 

Students will be taking the PARCC this spring regardless of their concerns, so Mrs. Santucci offered a few words of advice to students: “take it like any other test.”