As many parents and kids know, the PARCC test replaces the DC-CAS test, starting… very soon! When I speak to parents I hear lots of questions. I address some of the basics here. I’ve also included links to relevant sites, including a PARCC site where you can take a sample test, the PARCC information sites sponsored by DCPS and by DC’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), and the OSSE site where you can read the Common Core standards that the PARCC is designed to assess.
First, some basics about PARCC and about the Common Core State Standards that it is designed to assess:
What are the Common Core State Standards?
Several years ago, DC replaced its existing standards in math and English language arts with the “Common Core” state standards. The CCSS were developed by educators from across the country through a partnership initiated by the nation’s governors and the nation’s state superintendents of education. While DC was an early adopter of the standards, at this point, almost every state has adopted them.
Why have DC and other states adopted them?
The key reasons that most states, and DC, have replaced their previous standards with the CC standards are:
–It makes sense to have the same standards across all states. As many commentators have pointed out, no matter what state you’re from, the rules of grammar, the concepts of math, and the principles of writing are the same. It makes sense for standards in these subjects to be the same across the country. This is especially true in a country where people move around so much. And, it’s even more true for students in DC, who will likely find themselves at some point in their lives working or studying in another state.
–The Common Core standards, in addition to bringing consistency to schools across the country, reflect higher academic expectations than previous standards. The developers of the standards believe that the CC standards reflect a level of understanding and competence that will enable students to be successful as freshman in college in both subjects without having to take remedial, non-credit courses.
Why did DC adopt the PARCC test?
Once DC adopted the Common Core standards, it became necessary to adopt an end-of-year test that aligned with the new standards, which DC’s existing end-of-year test, the DC-CAS, did not. To assess progress towards the new standards, DC (specifically the Office of the State Superintendent OSSE) adopted a new set of end-of-year tests in ELA and math, known as the PARCC. These assessments, in comparison to the DC-CAS, use more innovative test formats and test higher-level skills.
When will the new PARCC tests be given?
The new tests will be administered for the first time this spring. These tests will be taken by students in grades 3-8 and in algebra 1, geometry, and English 1 and 2. The tests will be given in two parts, the performance assessment and the end-of-year assessment. The performance assessment will be given starting in March; the end-of-year assessment will be given starting in May.
What will be done with the test results?
Because this is the first year of the PARCC test, no results will be available until the fall. At that time parents will get their children’s scores. While school-level scores will be public, the results will not in this first year be used to classify or rate schools, and they won’t be used by DCPS in teacher evaluations.
For more information, try these links:
DCPS’ PARCC site includes a video overview of PARCC and links to sample questions (at the bottom).
For information from PARCC, including a link to the “Item of the Week” (on right navigation), click here.
You can try out PARCC practice tests here. It will ask you to sign in. Your own name will get you in.
And, feel free to comment to me: firstname.lastname@example.org