Maryland Students Take On PARCC Testing

Starting in the spring of this year, all MCPS students currently enrolled in English 10, Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 will be taking the PARCC assessments instead of HSAs. Students in grades three through eight will take PARCC in place of the MSAs.

These assessments, which are only administered online, were developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). They aim to ask students to “demonstrate critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in an in-depth manner a�� to answer various types of questions, show their work and explain their reasoning,” according to a bro chure issued by PARCC.

In short, the questions on the PARCC assessment aim to require more analysis and understanding than the MSAs and HSAs. The PARCC tests will not count towards graduation until 2017, but will eventually be administered to high school students taking government and biology in addition to math and English.

Philip Kauffman, Board of Education member, stated that the PARCC tests have been mandated by the state, and that Maryland is one of around ten states participating. “We have done very well in the past. a�� Our hope is to per form better than all other states,” Kauffman said, smiling. Kauffman partici pated in a PARCC information session held at Montgomery Blair HS Jan. 2.

This new assessment will be administered using a wide range of devices, from desktop computers to laptops and Chromebooks. For this reason, many schools have been incorporating the use of more technology, such as Chrome books, into the classroom.

Eric Kuhn, MCPS Supervisor of Special Education, thinks that using lap tops and Chromebooks will significantly help learning and hearing impaired students on tests.

“A deaf child we think will be more engaged. The focus factor will help them. Fonts and backgrounds can be changed, and there will be closed-cap tioning. All of the students will receive their complete extra time,” Kuhn said.

One of the major concerns about the PARCC assessments is the schedul ing of the tests. All schools are required to create their own schedules, which have to be approved by the county by Feb. 13.

There are two major testing seasons for PARCCa��a mid-year test, which RHS will administer in March, and an end-of-year test, which RHS will ad minister at the end of April. Depending on the course, there are also two or three sessions, or “units” of testing time, which take anywhere from 70 to 90 minutes to complete.

In order to accommodate this, RHS will be going on a block schedule for from March 2 to March 10, and then again in April. One set of 70 to 90 minute classes will be held on Monday and Thursday, and the other on Tuesday and Friday. The April schedule might also incorporate two half days. The HSAs for government and biology will be administered as usual.

“We are certainly taking it seriously,” Principal Billie-Jean Bensen said. “All the resource teachers met with the heads of the departments last week to talk about our plan for scheduling, and are now looking to balance out stu dents’ days. We’re going to make it happen.”