Preparing for the PARCC

TestingComputer W5This spring, students across Maryland are taking the PARCC state assessments, and school officials are hoping the results are better than in the past two years.

The PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) will be administered sometime between April 3 and June 9. Schools are given the leeway to administer the test anytime during that window.

Students don’t need to do anything to prepare for the test, apart from getting a good night’s sleep and eating a well-balanced meal, according to Bill Reinhard, director of communications for the Maryland Board of Education.

“Parents should know that this is an extension of the standards their students have already been learning in school,” Reinhard says. “We want kids to take the test seriously, but anxiety doesn’t help anyone.”

Now in its third year, PARCC testing is given to students in grades 3-8 in all subjects, while high school students are tested in English and algebra. The testing was introduced three years ago to better assess students’ readiness for college and careers.

“We raised the bar for testing students in Maryland because we know our students need to perform higher,” Reinhard says. “The interest in improving our state’s assessments came from businesses and colleges because we were hearing that students weren’t really prepared after high school.”

Reinhard says that nearly 50 percent of the state’s high school graduates need to take remedial courses upon entering community college.

When the Maryland State Department of Education released last year’s scores, the results were disappointing, with fewer than half of the state’s students passing the exam in every grade and subject. Math scores did increase slightly from the year before, but administrators are hoping for better results in 2017.

“We knew the test would be hard, but we do believe that our students will improve each year,” Reinhard says.

PARCC testing is not a requirement for high school graduation and, so far, it is not used as a measure for teacher accountability. The exam also has no bearing on whether a student can continue to the next grade. The School Board compares the test to the Maryland High School Assessment Exam, which was introduced 10 years ago.

“A decade ago we saw a lot of skepticism with the high school exams, and initially the students were not hitting the mark with that exam,” Reinhard says. “Now the majority of students are scoring very well on that exam. We expect to see the same with PARCC testing in time.”

For more information about PARCC testing, visit the Maryland School Board website.

By Katie Riley

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