A Parent’s Guide To PARCC
By Lisa Hanchey
There’s a lot of buzz in the media about PARCC. But, what exactly is it? LifeStyle got the answers from Iberia Parish’s education leaders.
What is PARCC?
PARCC stands for Partnership Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers. It is an assessment aligned to the Common Core State Standards, which standardizes teaching in English-language arts and mathematics from state to state. That means Louisiana parents can compare their children’s skills with the performance of students in other states.
PARCC is currently administered in 13 states, including Louisiana. The statewide assessment is administered in all Louisiana public school systems. About 320,000 students in third through eighth grade took the mathematics and English tests in March.
The PARCC exam tests students each year in grades three through eight, and once in high school, in the subjects of English language arts and math. Nationwide, the exam is computer-based. But in Louisiana, the test is written and based on a compilation of PARCC questions. In spring 2016, Louisiana will move to computer-based assessments.
This is not the only difference between Louisiana’s PARCC test and that given in other states. A company called Pearson distributes the official PARCC test. However, Louisiana is getting its PARCC test from Data Recognition Corporation. Some educators are concerned that Louisiana’s students are not taking the same PARCC assessment that is being administered in other PARCC states.
What is Involved?
PARCC involves two weeks of testing, with one session per day. The first phase occurred during the week of March 16-20, with makeup exams on March 23-24. At that time, students were tested on literary analysis, research simulation, narrative writing and math. In May, students will take Phase II of PARCC, known as the end of year assessment. During May 4-8, students will have two math sessions and either one or two English sessions, depending on their grade level.
Each PARCC test is timed according to the subject. For each English language arts session, students are allowed 60 to 90 minutes. For math, they are permitted 70 to 80 minutes per test.
What Will Happen to LEAP?
PARCC replaces LEAP and iLEAP Assessments in English/language arts and mathematics in grades three through eighth. However, on April 14-15 students still took the LEAP and iLEAP tests in science and social studies, which are unique to Louisiana. These tests are taken in addition to other state- and district-mandated tests. PARCC’s critics believe that students are spending too much time taking tests and not enough time learning in the classroom.
Is PARCC mandatory?
This year, Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an Executive Order allowing parents to opt out of the PARCC exam on behalf of their children. Those students opting out will receive a zero on the test. This could impact school and district performance scores, which might effect future funding.
In Phase 1 of PARCC testing during the week of March 16-20, Iberia Parish had 15 parents who opted-out on behalf of their children, according to Dale Henderson, Iberia Parish School Board Superintendent. During that week, however, the Parish tested more than 10,300 students. In Lafayette Parish, at least 69 parents had opted-out as of March, with about 13,000 students taking the exam. Nearly 800 students in Calcasieu Parish opted out of the tests. Mississippi backed out of the PARCC group in January.
When Will the Results Come Out?
The results from the tests taken in spring 2015 will be available this fall.