About the PARCC Tests
What is PARCC?
PARCC stands for "Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. As the title indicates, the tests were developed by a partnership of educators in 12 states. They are designed to help your school and teachers determine whether your child is on course to succeed at higher grade levels and ultimately in college or the workplace.
The test questions are designed to determine students' knowledge of material they learn in the classroom throughout the year. This material, called "standards," simply defines what your child should learn at each grade level. New Mexico is one of the states which has adopted the Common Core State Standards
. These were developed by educators, content-area experts, and business leaders throughout the country to provide some consistency in what students should know and be expected to do regardless of where they live.
How is PARCC different from earlier achievement tests?
Students in grades 3-11 take the test online, which requires them to have strong computer skills.
In order to demonstrate what they know, students need good keyboarding
skills to be able to type responses to questions without first writing
them down, to use a mouse, to be able to select, drag, and drop objects
and text, highlight text, and use a calculator and equation builder on
The types of questions are different. Students are expected to do more than answer questions. They are required to explain how they arrived at the answers. For example, in reading, they must justify their answer by citing specific passages within the text. In math, they not only must give the answer to a problem, but explain how they arrived at the answer and apply that information to solving further problems. Students also have time limits (60-90 minutes, depending on the grade level and unit) in which to complete portions of the test.
Some students find the questions more challenging. The new standards in reading and math are designed to be rigorous to prepare students to compete with the best and brightest young people around the world. States that have already administered the new Common Core achievement tests report that the percentage of students considered "proficient" dropped dramatically. If your child's performance level drops, it does not necessarily mean he or she is a bad student. It's just that your children are being asked to learn more demanding material and respond to more demanding questions. It is not unusual for schools and districts to see a drop in proficiency levels/scores in the first year new tests are given.
Does PARCC affect promotion or graduation?
PARCC results will not be included in a student's classroom grade, and New Mexico does not require that students achieve a particular score on the PARCC in order to be promoted to the next grade level. However, it is possible that a student's scale score could be one of many measures used by the parent and school staff members to determine appropriate grade level or instructional placement.
PARCC scores can affect graduation. The state requires that students pass a "high school competency exam" in order to earn a diploma. The New Mexico Public Education Department has designated PARCC as the competency exam for reading, writing, and mathematics, replacing the SBA Iin those subject areas. A passing score on the English 11 PARCC test and on either the Geometry or Algebra II PARCC tests meet the graduation testing requirement. New Mexico defines a passing score as achieving a Level 3, 4, or 5 on the PARCC test.
Students will have more than one chance to pass the PARCC. Once a student has exhausted the opportunities to achieve a passing score on the PARCC, alternative means of demonstrating competency can be considered to qualify a student for graduation.
How can I help my student prepare for testing?
See the column at right for some great resources you can use!
Get your kids on the computer! Have them practice typing, selecting text, dragging and dropping, using a mouse, and using an online calculator. See the column to the right for FREE websites you can use to help your child acquire good keyboarding skills so they are able to easily demonstrate what they know when they take the tests.
Ask questions when helping your student with homework. Instead of simply helping your child with questions or problems, go deeper! For example, ask your children questions about what they have read, and then ask them to point out something in the text that supports their answer. Or in math, ask them to describe how they arrived at an answer, or better yet, to write it down.