PARCC Test Administered

This spring, a pilot group of students from nearly every high school in Maryland took a field test of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) to gauge results and student feedback on the new assessment to make changes to the test before its 2014-2015 school year implementation.

The PARCC test, one of the major changes in the new MCPS Curriculum 2.0, is a new state assessment that replaces the MSA and HSA. It has caused confusion among students, as they wonder how the test has changed and how the county is handling students who have already taken the HSA to meet their requirements.

Assistant Principal Galit Zolkower said, “From the little tiny bit I saw from the field test, the PARCC tests seem to be more varied than the HSA and our hope is that they are more engaging.”

Next year, the English 10 and Algebra Analysis HSAs will be replaced by the PARCC English 10 and PARCC Algebra I tests. The HSAs for government and biology will continue to be taken and will remain a state graduation requirement.

The PARCC exam is a reflection of the Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards and the spring practice test is viewed as a good opportunity to appraise the new assessment. Right now, changes are being made to the test based on the feedback received from the test groups before the test is officially administered in the following school year.

“From reading the description of the test, I think it would be a good change. I always remember hating the MSAs’ for being so boring,” sophomore Hazel Carmona said.

The PARCC test’s purpose is to aid in the improvements made to the math curriculum that are in response to new initiatives. It aims to result in MCPS students having a stronger, more all-inclusive comprehension of mathematical concepts.

According to the county, the PARCC test addresses the ever-changing demands in the workplace and tests students on skills such as critical thinking, teamwork and diligence.

Similar to the changes in the SAT, the PARCC test aims to stop students from being able to simply memorize a procedure to get questions correctly. With the PARCC test, reasoning and logic are supposed to be more vital to success, setting it apart from previous state-wide assessments.

Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, all Maryland students in Grades 3-8 will take the new PARCC in reading/English language arts and mathematics. Some of the first students that took the PARCC test in the control groups experienced problems with the new computer-based format.

Zolkower said, “It was very glitchy a�� since it’s a field test. We expected and the creators of the test, Pearson, expected there to be issues, because when you develop something in a vacuum you don’t necessarily know what problems will arise.”

Students are also concerned whether or not they have to take the new PARCC test if they had previously taken the HSA and have met their requirements already.

“They don’t have to take PARCC in the areas that they’ve already passed the HSA. Kids aren’t going to be double tested,” Zolkower said.

These new assessments in mathematics and English language arts/literacy hope to give teachers, schools, students, and parents quicker feedback on whether students are on track in their learning and provide teachers with the tools needed to customize learning in order to ensure student success the 2014-2015 school year.