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D04C3817wAs New Jersey public schools prepared for PARCC high stakes testing this spring, the news was full of reports about parent movements to opt out of the tests.

News on PARCC Testing:

New Jersey is one of twelve states that administers the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) this spring.

“The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a group of states working together to develop a set of assessments that measure whether students are on track to be successful in college and their careers. These high quality, computer-based K–12 assessments in Mathematics and English/Language Arts Literacy give teachers, schools, students, and parents better information on whether students are on track in their learning and for success after high school, and tools to help teachers customize learning to meet student needs.” (parcconline.org)

Because PARCC assessments are used as a factor in measuring schools against each other, as well as measuring teacher effectiveness, parents are concerned about the inordinate time teachers are spending on prepping students for the test and the amount of time that taking the test – approximately 20 hours – will take away from instruction.

D04C3790wAs a private Christian school, Eastern Christian will not participate in PARCC testing.

In fact, for 10+ years now, we have used Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), a computer adaptive standardized test. This program offers statistically rich data to inform our instruction and curriculum. MAP is an assessment instrument that comes through Northwest Evaluation Association (nwea.org). MAP is focused on helping us answer the key question: Are our students learning? We have found that MAP assessments deliver precise and immediate information that helps us measure student growth and make curriculum and instruction decisions. Because NWEA has been a pioneer in computer adaptive assessments for over 20 years, their database is statistically robust, with over 5 million students being assessed each year.

NWEA is a non-profit assessment organization. On the other hand, PARCC has contracted with a private publisher to design and produce their assessments. Both assessments measure student performance against the Common Core Curriculum Standards in Language Arts & Mathematics.

[Related Read: What’s in a Name? Common Core Standards vs. Curriculum]

Timing: Another Differentiator

For this first run through of the PARCC assessments, schools have been told that the results of the testing will not be available until next October. Contrast the above with our assessment practices. We administer MAP tests in September, “End of Course” assessments in the high school in January, and MAP assessments once again in May each year. In all cases our results are available immediately.

Also, PARCC tests are available online but they are not computer adaptive at this point. In other words, each student is answering grade-level appropriate Common Core aligned questions and problems only. Our students start at grade-level to answer Common Core aligned questions and problems but can demonstrate above or below grade level proficiency as the computer searches for that student’s level of achievement

 

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