Good Luck on the PARCC!

Schools are readying for their end of February tests and this time teachers as well as students are anxious about the results. In a manner of speaking, Northshore schools may also be drumming a historic moment since the government is fed up with is low academic levels and has decided to introduce a new component. The PARCC tests.

PARCC is coming to the Northshore of Chicago

PARCC is coming to the Northshore of Chicago

How different are these PARCC tests to the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT)?

The new tests stress problem solving and critical thinking; are said to be more relevant to the real world; definitely have higher expectations; and not all Northshore schools are happy about the transition.

Dr. Brian Bullis, the principal of Caruso Middle School in Deerfield blogged that “The rigor of these assessments far exceeds anything students across the nation have experienced before in the form of a standardized assessment”

In District 153 (Homewood), school board member Tom Brabec took a PARCC math assessment for third-graders, but struggled before moving on to a literature/language arts test for 4th graders. Churchill school principal, Cece Coffey, told The Chronicle that the format of the test is “just too complex” for students to support their answers.

“Our students are really good at supporting the answers, but in this context it’s just too complex. We teach them on paper how to outline a story recognizing the highlights and then to discuss those points and then write an essay.  With this test, we’re asking our students to compose an essay in their heads and get it onto a computer screen.”

District 34 (Glenview), too, has noted that “these higher expectations will cause a decrease in the number of students who meet and exceed standards”. There is a 24 hour window to complete the test, but giving the student that extra time could throw off the next scheduled exam time. Coffey said students may spend as long as 14 hours taking the PARCC.

Schools are girding themselves to do the best that they can. District 153 school administrators have adjusted schedules so that all students have a computer available to them for testing; District 34 has staff counsel students on the new learning standards; whilst Caruso Middle School had students and staff participate in the practice PARCC tests in order to get a feel for both the format and the anticipated rigor. Dr. Bullis suggested that parents take the tests too in order to understand the experiences of their children.

Parent may find the Illinois PARCC Parents’ Guide helpful. It warns that their child’s achievement scores may initially be lower than they were in the past but stresses that the PARCC helps educators “deepen their understanding of student progress from grade to grade and … identify any gaps in progress and address them well before students enter college or the workforce.” The guide recommends that you discuss the new tests with your child and assure them that you are there to help him or her with college later on.

In the meantime, Deep Blue Financial wishes you and your child (or relation): Good Luck!

Addendum:  This article presented largely negative views on the PARCC. A follow-up will quote parents and faculty who love it and explain why. Deep Blue Financial wonders about your opinion. What do you think?

Story by:  Leah Zitter, Writer