THOUGHTS ON PARCC

BACK ON TRACK!

So it’s been some time since I had a chance to catch up on my blog –  lots to write!!
I’ll start with PARCC!   While most can understand the need to find a way to validate student learning and while most were ok with HSPA- and most are resigned to SAT”s, ACT’s and the like – PARCC  seems to have brought out the bear in many!

For me it wasn’t so much about the actual test.  I’m OK with reserving judgment on the instrument until we get a chance to review some results. The difficulties from my perspective came from trying to deliver this assessment with as little disruption to instruction as possible. The attempt to create a computer based test posed access issues from a hardware perspective as well as from an administration perspective. With 1300 students to test it was impossible to provide a device for more than approximately 300 students at a time.  That coupled with the initial direction that students with modifications needed to be given a full day for each test section created the need for multiple weeks reserved for PARCC.  In addition, best practices indicated the need to have two proctors in each room taking staff away from classrooms and replacing them with substitutes.

On the state level, we received information that for the next three years there would be multiple ways for students to meet the state testing requirement without passing PARCC.  The state also gave parents the right of refusal. Being an educator, I would still have encouraged my own children to participate in the test to the best of their ability as the results could provide another measure of strengths and potential weaknesses. (Truth be told, I think my boys always felt like they were at a disadvantage because their mom was a teacher:-)!) That being said, I can also understand the parent who chooses refusal of the PARCC because there are other means of meeting the requirement –  especially if they are worried about their student missing potential class time. While it was our intent to allow full classes to continue with curriculum while other groups were testing somehow that message was misinterpreted to mean that curriculum would continue in rooms that had some students missing due to taking the PARCC! Once refusals began occurring in larger numbers and the weather became uncooperative our original schedules needed to be modified more than once.

While all of the above contributed to the angst that surrounded PARCC – I do believe our first administration of PARCC was a success. Long story short –  it’s three plus weeks that I am glad are over!
We have learned some lessons and the state has also provided additional clarifications for administration especially for students with modifications. Our end of year PARCC should be much smoother. We are also giving preference to AP administration which means some sections of PARCC will occur prior to AP tests and the remaining sections will be completed after AP exams are over.
Anyone who submitted a refusal – that refusal remains in effect for the end of year PARCC. Also, curriculum will not advance in rooms where students are missing due to taking the PARCC.  If that becomes an issue for anyone – please don’t hesitate to contact us.

I am looking forward to seeing some results from this assessment although I would encourage anyone analyzing those results to consider the number of refusals statewide, the message some students may have arrived at due to the controversy surrounding PARCC that could negatively influence performance, as well as the newness of the test itself.

Randolph was randomly chosen for a visit from the NJDOE accompanied by an independent evaluator hired to evaluate the administration of PARCC. I did have the opportunity to share our experiences with them – hopefully it will be useful information as they make future plans.

Stay tuned for some updates on RAM CAMP 2.0 as well as the conclusion of Make It Stick!

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