PARCC Practice Test Faces New Challenges
The PARCC refers to a consortium of the United States governmental agencies working together towards a common objective in education. Specifically, the PARCC consortium brings together six states and the District of Columbia, as well as the United States Bureau of Indian Education and the Department of Defense Education Activity.
Understanding the PARCC test
The legal mandate of the PARCC consortium is therefore to develop and administer a standardized set of K-12 assessments in English and mathematics. These assessments must be based upon the common and fundamental standards set by the respected Common Core State Standards Initiative, which was established to regulate the content of every K-12 assessment administered throughout the United States.
Established in 2010, the PARCC assessment guide ensures that students in the United States are tested along similar guidelines in English language arts and mathematics. The metrics are applied at the end of every grade a student completes at school. The PARCC system achieves this by stipulating what the tests may or may not contain, ensuring there exist consistent educational standards across the member states.
A similarly important objective is to guarantee that every student graduating from high school is adequately prepared to join the various credit-bearing courses at the many available college programs. This ensures the workforce is qualified at a standardized level, making it possible to develop the country with high quality of labor graduating from the education system.
Alongside the District of Columbia, the current PARCC membership also comprises of six other states, including Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Mexico, and New Jersey. The present membership represents a 70-percent decline in membership since 2010 when the PARCC consortium boasted a total of 24 states around the country.
Unfortunately, this number has been on continued decline ever since. From the withdrawal of Florida in September 2013 to the departure of Illinois on July 12, 2016, the PARCC membership has continued to reduce on a consistent basis. The concern, however, lies in the vast number of reasons cited by various states withdrawing their membership from the PARCC assessments in English and mathematics.
Specifically, the withdrawal of Florida from PARCC and the Common Core in September 2013 was a result of the unconstitutional involvement of the federal government and meddling with such affairs reserved for the various state leaderships. On the contrary, a higher cost per student of $29.50 as determined in July 2013 was responsible for the mass exodus of member states, including Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Oklahoma. Despite persisting after the cost declaration, Mississippi left the PARCC system in 2015 for the same reason.
Though the provision of the Common Core Initiative, the PARCC assessment can indeed boast a number of other third party sponsors. However, the major sponsors of the Common Core Initiative and the PARCC assessment tests are the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Being the association of the respective lead authorities in the various states, the National Governors Association has the inherent responsibility to ensure that all products and services available in their states are of the required quality. They are also charged with protecting the economic resources of their states, hence the decisions of many to withdraw from the PARCC assessments for the same reason mentioned previously.
On their part, the Council of Chief State School Officers concerns with such essential areas of the state education system as workforce at school, accessibility to research and information systems, molding of the next generation learners, as well as the establishment of standards, assessments and accountability levels in the sector.
Application and assessment criteria
While all the members ascribe to the same ideals and criteria for administering the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test to the students, the scope of applying the exam varies extensively. However, the PARCC assessment only includes tests in mathematics and English, administered within the member jurisdictions.
PARCC involves exams in mathematics and English language arts, and is given to the students between the third and the eleventh grades. As per the mandate of the PARCC consortium and the Common Core Initiative, the assessment is meant to serve as the litmus test of the progress made in the studies by every individual student. It is also an indicator that enables teachers to identify the students’ problems while also providing a means through which they can be addressed.
In addition to the tests, the Common Core Initiative and PARCC also developed a library of extensive learning resources. This library is known as the Partnership Resource Center. It grants the teachers access to the computer adaptive diagnostic tools that are designed to empower the students with appropriate learning materials critical to the preparation fortheir life in college, as well as the demands of the chosen careers. Such foresight remains the key distinguishing feature of the PARCC exam from similar assessment tests.
The PARCC assessment is administered by the seven member states in varying fashions. Indeed, the latest information indicates that not all member jurisdictions offer the PARCC tests in a uniform way. For instance, both Illinois and the District of Columbia only use the assessment for grades 3-8 only.
Similarly, the data collected in April 2018 revealed that Louisiana, Maryland and Massachusetts offered a hybrid system of assessing the students’ progress, with the PrepAway PARCC test only used between the third and the eighth grades. However, while the state of New Mexico remains an active member, plans to withdraw from the PARCC system are said to be well underway.
The controversial issues plaguing the PARCC test are quite numerous, with the continued withdrawal of member states being a major point of concern. With total membership plummeting from 24 to 7 states in under 7 years, the news of the impending exit of New Mexico is set to strain the test even further.
Similarly, there is an increasing number of protests against the testing systems in the active member states. From individual students voicing their displeasure against the new system to the collective questioning of PARCC validity and reliability, the assessment has fallen short of the initial expectations.
As a result, it is imperative that the Common Core Initiative find ways to make the test both affordable and effective in meeting the set objectives, or otherwise the test may disappear completely.