A background on PARCC (provided by the NJPSA)
 
New Jersey has had a long history of establishing state standards for instruction and assessment to help schools ensure that students are meeting educational goals.  Standards are what we expect students to know in individual grades.  Curriculum is how we operationalize those goals into learning.
 
Federal and state laws require New Jersey students to take an assessment that measures college and career readiness. For the past several years the state has used the NJ ASK for grades 3-8 in language arts and math while the HSPA was used in 11th grade for English and math to meet our No Child Left Behind mandate. This year the state will use the PARCC in grades 3-11 in English and math.
 
If you have questions regarding the PARCC please read the information provided by the Curriculum Office. If you have any concerns please contact Frank Sanchez via email or call your child's building principal.   
 
Some Information about PARCC: 
  • PARCC is aligned with the Common Core and more accurately gauges students’ progress in achieving these new standards.   NJASK incorporated common core concepts in last year’s exam as a logical step in the transition.    
  • The information we receive will be more comprehensive under PARCC than the NJASK.  PARCC data will help us monitor each student’s progress by helping to identify strengths and weaknesses better. Schools can then respond accordingly with individual support for students and improvements in local curriculum, instruction and assessment.  
  • Colleges / universities have committed to acceptance of a PARCC score of 4 or 5 (viewed as mastery) for purposes of college placement.  This means that students won’t need to take any remedial courses if they score a 4 or 5 on the exam.  And, it also means they won’t have to even take the Accuplacer (the test that colleges used to determine college placement).
  • Another difference - PARCC is administered electronically.  But, moving to an e-platform not only will eventually help us receive data faster, but also allows for deeper analysis of the data, helping schools better respond to student needs. 
  • In addition, a by-product of the change has facilitated upgrades in school technology infrastructure, and new training for educators to integrate the newest technologies into the classroom.  This pushes us to fully infuse technology in classroom instruction and assessment to better engage students who are digital natives and prepare them for a future where the use of technology is not an option but a necessity.  
  • Concern with testing times has also been raised.  The difference is that PARCC is administered in ‘testing windows’ or stretches of time within which schools can choose when to schedule testing based upon their calendar and student schedules.  There aren’t 20 days of testing – rather, there are 20 days within which to schedule testing.  This flexibility allows all schools the opportunity to compose a schedule that works best for them with the least disruption of instructional time.
  • People have also raised concern about the time devoted to testing.  A real concern – but one created, we believe, by the sparse data we were receiving in the past from prior state assessments.  This often led districts to purchase additional assessment systems to supplement in order to provide additional insight on student learning.  PARCC will help us consolidate a number of assessments we’ve done in the past that we won’t have to do because we get more comprehensive, timely info from one assessment. 
  • We also recognize and understand the anxiety and apprehension among some parents and educators.  We know that some parents have decided to not allow their children to take the PARCC exam.  While parents have the right to make that decision for their child we lose an opportunity to gain invaluable information on how their child is progressing. In addition, there may be monetary implications as the federal government does require student participation in a state-wide assessment.
  • We understand the concern – this is a time of change – but we also know that the Legislature and New Jersey Department of Education are listening and have changed their position on issues in the past based on input from educators, students and parents.  An example, the decrease in weight that the test scores have on evaluation ratings.   Everyone recognizes that the first few years of PARCC implementation may not be perfect and necessitates an on-going dialogue focused on PARCC’s impact on student learning. We must all commit to monitor and adjust based on our experience with PARCC and the resulting data.
  • Finally – realize that we are at the very beginning of this process.  We’ve not even taken ‘the test’ yet – let’s get through the first test administration and then make informed decisions about what changes are needed, if any. 
 
PARCC Resources
 
Best Foot Forward
The organizations representing New Jersey parents, principals and superintendents have launched this website to answer questions about the PARCC exams. The website was created by a group called "We Raise NJ," which consists of the New Jersey PTA, New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, New Jersey Association of School Administrators, New Jersey School Boards Association, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Council of County Colleges, and Jersey CAN, an advocacy group. (NJ Star Ledger 2/24/15) http://bestfootforwardnj.org/ 
 
 
Sample Set Tutorial
Familiarize students with how to navigate the computer-based environment
http://parcc.pearson.com/tutorial/
 
Practice Tests
See the PARCC items in action
http://parcc.pearson.com/practice-tests/
 
NJDOE information
NJ Department of Education PARCC website www.state.nj.us/education/sca/parcc/
 
Additional resources
 
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