Why was PARCC developed?
PARCC is a group of states that worked together to develop a set of assessments with the shared goal of finding a more effective approach to measure student achievement under the new academic standards in mathematics and English language arts. In 2010, the New Jersey State Board of Education adopted these new standards, known as the Common Core State Standards, after a thorough process that involved public participation, as well as advice and input from all sectors of New Jersey’s education and business communities.
Who was involved in creating the test?
Hundreds of K–12 and postsecondary educators, content specialists and assessment experts from across the PARCC states participated in the development of all PARCC testing items. Many New Jersey educators joined hundreds of educators from around the country to create, review and approve every test item. Each item was reviewed by no fewer than 30 educators prior to field test. Outcomes of the field test were then reviewed by 80 educators prior to inclusion on the operational tests. Educators will come together to engage in both reviewing student responses and standard setting in the upcoming months after the administration of PARCC. Unlike previous tests, many of these test questions will be made available to educators after the exam for future use in classroom instruction.
Why have we replaced NJ ASK and HSPA, our previous state tests?
Unlike NJ ASK and HSPA, the new PARCC assessments are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and were created to measure how well students can apply their knowledge of concepts rather than memorizing facts. For instance, PARCC assessments require students to solve problems using mathematical reasoning and to be able to model mathematical principles. The primary complaint educators had with New Jersey’s previous paper-and-pencil test, the NJ ASK, is that it didn’t provide useful data to improve instruction. PARCC assessments are designed to provide parents and teachers with a far greater level of informative and useful data to help improve student instruction.
How will PARCC affect my child’s teachers?
For teachers, state law requires a portion of annual evaluations for only teachers of mathematics and English language arts in the tested grades to be based on growth on student assessments. This affects fewer than 20% of teachers. The portion of a teacher’s evaluation based on growth on student assessments is being reduced to 10% in 2015-16—down from 30% the previous year—in recognition of the transition to the new PARCC assessment.
Is this the first time New Jersey is using a computer-based test?
Computer-based assessments are becoming common for today’s students. For instance, the GED test is now computer-based and the SAT college-entrance exams will also be computer-based. Some states have had all-electronic assessments for years. In addition, districts have incorporated computer literacy into their curriculum.
What if there is an issue with the Internet during testing?
Schools have been advised to follow an approach called “proctor caching.” This term means schools have the ability to download the tests from the Internet onto a single local server. Then, each student’s device will connect with the designated school server. This approach effectively negates the need for extensive broadband capabilities. According to field tests conducted in spring of 2014, proctor caching can substantially reduce potential technology problems.
What if problems occur during testing?
Problems during testing happen each year for a variety of reasons. Every school and school district has a test coordinator who is trained to respond to a variety of irregularities that may transpire during test administration. Each irregularity will be handled on a case-by-case basis by the local district, the state education department or the testing vendor.
How will PARCC be administered for English language learners and students with special needs?
PARCC is designed to provide accurate measures of achievement and growth for all students, including those with disabilities and English language learners. The online test offers options that address many visual, auditory and physical-access barriers for students with disabilities, all while enabling them to take tests at the same time as others in their class. Accommodations are available for students with Individualized Education Plans, and Child Study Teams will work with teachers to address accommodations needed for paper and pencil testing. Just like prior state assessments, there will be accommodations for English language learners at various levels of language proficiency depending on eligibility based on different levels.
Does my child have to take the test?
Annual statewide assessments are not new in New Jersey and having students participate helps provide a more complete, accurate picture of how schools and students are performing. As an organization committed to parent engagement, we believe that parents can and should do what they feel is best for their child. Local districts apply their local policies on how they will work with parents and students to address instances where students attend school on test day but refuse to participate in the tests.
How will the results of PARCC be used?
For students in New Jersey, passing PARCC isn’t required to advance from one grade to the next. It was not required with the former NJ ASK test, and it is not a requirement of PARCC tests. However, local schools may use PARCC results as one of multiple measures used in determining class placement, such as a gifted program. Parent concerns about how a local district may be using the results to determine student placement should be addressed with the local school board.
What information will the score report provide?
PARCC state leaders and educators from New Jersey have partnered to design a student assessment report that is easier to understand and provides more detailed information on how your child is progressing and where extra support may be needed. Students, parents and teachers will have clear information about whether students are working at or above, near, or below expected standards. Within each test subject reports will include a breakdown of specific skills (e.g., vocabulary, writing expression and informational text), providing information to help parents and teachers determine how best to help students. Scores will include average results at the school, district and state level and as well as an average across other PARCC member states. Providing this kind of benchmark data can help parents put their child’s performance in context with their peers and others across the state.
Will PARCC sell personal information about students?
No. Protections are in place at both the state and federal levels, and through all contracts and agreements, intended to prevent student-identifiable data from being marketed or distributed. The selling of student data was never allowed under the previous tests in New Jersey, and it is not allowed under the PARCC tests.