June 2, 2016
As states wrap up PARCC testing for the year in the coming week, I want to take a moment to celebrate and applaud the millions of students, parents and educators who worked together to successfully administer the PARCC assessment this spring. Seven states, plus the District of Columbia and the Bureau of Indian Education, will have administered the PARCC end-of-year tests this year to 3.5 million students, and a greater percentage of students tested on computers as compared to last year – at least 90 percent.
Our collective success is due to our state allies and partners helping us get better, including scores of teachers and administrators whose professional contributions have helped create a top-ranked summative assessment.
In response to feedback from educators, students and parents, the PARCC team incorporated changes for testing this year that were designed to improve their experience, including:
- Shorter Administration Time. The test was 90 minutes shorter than last year’s (60 minutes shorter in math; 30 min shorter in English language arts) with fewer overall units. The two testing windows from 2014-2015 were combined making the test significantly easier for schools to administer.
- Faster Results. Test results this year will be provided to states, school districts and parents in the summer, much sooner than last year’s score release. (And we will continue to look for ways to expedite the scoring/reporting process next year.)
The PARCC assessment has advanced the testing landscape by offering a tool that helps measure whether students are on track for college and careers by asking them to think critically, to use evidence to support their arguments, and to demonstrate effective writing in English language arts and mathematics. This valuable information is then delivered to students, parents, and educators which empowers them to ask questions and make decisions – all in the interest of improving educational outcomes for students.
Although there is much to be proud of, we are committed to identifying and improving elements of the test – including in areas that are outside of our direct control. Earlier this spring, after a nearly flawless 14-months streak, the testing platform suffered a one-day setback in New Jersey as a result of a coding error by the test vendor. As a result, we have directed the vendor to conduct a system-wide audit of its internal controls, and to put in place adequate redundancies to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
We recognize that if this test is to remain the highest-quality assessment available, it must continue to evolve and adapt in order to meet the needs of states, school districts, educators, students and parents. To that end, over the past few months, we’ve solicited and absorbed feedback from state and local education agencies, educators, and partners – suggestions that, once incorporated, will allow us to better serve the needs of all students.
Our new tiered model for summative assessments announced last fall is one such step. States can now choose from a variety of content options and test administrator vendors that work best for them without formal membership in the consortium.
Through our continued collaboration with you, we will continue to contribute to a world-class learning system that can be made available to more students throughout the nation.
Thank you for all you have done to support this work!
Laura Slover is the CEO of Parcc Inc. Prior to becoming CEO, she served as the senior vice president at Achieve, a bipartisan education reform organization, as well as an English teacher and basketball coach at Battle Mountain High School in Vail, Colo., and an English instructor at Colorado Mountain College.