PARCC: What You Need to Know

PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is a group currently consisting of 13 states joined together to produce assessments on par with the Common Core State Standards to judge if students are on track to pursuing eventual successful results in both college and their future careers. Like most major exams given by colleges, the PARCC is entirely computer-based. Unlike higher exams, it is built for grades K-12. Once taken, the teacher is immediately alerted to each child’s progress and problem areas, allowing for a more fluid approach to teaching core concepts.

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Who

Originally launched during the 2010-11 school year, Arkansas, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island have been working together to develop it into a fully formed test that officially launched this 2014-15 year. In addition, Pennsylvania is noted as a “participating” state since it has not officially decided to use the assessment but has a vested interest in developing a strong product. Altogether, this covers no less than 12 million public schools throughout America. With the combined efforts of so many supervisors and teachers, they are able to continually craft and change an assessment that holds children to the higher standards required by the world at large to achieve success.

Good and Bad

While created with only the best intentions in mind, it would be unfair to assume such a new program has gone off entirely without any form of negative feedback. The largest hurdle is, understandably, trying to change the public’s view that this is more than just wasted resources put toward yet another “standardized test” that will fail to do what is intended. Like most of its kind, it is limited in what information it reveals about the students. Tests, after all, cannot truly determine if the students both understand the subject and know how to apply it to external stimuli. In addition, what of those students who are hampered by their home life? Not every child can or will be intellectually superior, and it’s time to stop treating that fact as a negative. On the other hand, it is the first test of its kind to provide teachers with up-to-date information in regards to where their students need help. Instead of forcing standardized curriculums on every class no matter its make-up, it bolsters a teacher’s ability to adapt lessons to their current situation. Some classes will be much better at math while others will have trouble. Why punish either through a static curriculum?

For the Parents

If you still find yourself worried about the test, the PARCC website offers you not only a comprehensive FAQ section but a sample test in the format it is administered to the students. Each grade level has a set number of examples covering both math and English to give you an in depth sense of what your student will be undergoing on a regular basis. If you still need more information, join their Facebook group either through their website or Facebook’s. This will provide you with recent articles in addition to keeping you informed about test dates.

The Future is Still Unwritten

PARCC is shaping up to be the integration of standardized testing and technology. Because of this, it’s not entirely fair to refer to it as such. Instead of being a once a year frustration for students, teachers and parents alike, this new evolution of testing is set to keep everyone on track throughout the course of the year under the idea that better progress can be made in smaller increments. While the idea certainly holds promise, there remain a vast array of those decrying it as yet another way to stifle students that are already excelling or putting undue pressure on those that flounder. If history has taught us anything, however, is that you can’t force a child to succeed any more than you can force one to fail.