BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The first administration of the new PARCC assessment is beginning in March, and the district is putting together testing schedules, which will include delayed openings at the high school for students not testing.
Superintendent Victor Hayek provided an update on the testing at the Nov. 25 board of education meeting, saying that the goals of the new assessment are to look at common English Language Arts and Literacy skills and mathematics skills for grades 3 through 11.
“And the tests are computer based,” he said.
The testing, Hayek said, includes two summative assessment components, a performance based one done about three-quarters of the way through the school year, and an end-of-year assessment about 90 percent into the school year.
“The purpose of the testing is different than NJASK, which was gauging student proficiency,” he said. “This is meant to assess whether students are on track for college and careers.”
Bridgewater-Raritan High School interim principal Mark Morrell said they have been looking into testing options and parameters, including classroom and teacher availabilities, as well as the availability of enough computers for all students testing.
“(Classrooms and teachers) seriously impacted our ability to navigate PARCC scheduling,” he said. “Virtually every other school in the county is having the same problem.”
“There is no way we could do this without delayed openings,” he added.
Morrell said there will have to be two bus runs on those days, first bringing students to school at the regular time for testing, and then bringing everyone else in for regular delayed opening school schedules.
“It’s a very big challenge, and we felt it was the best opportunity for students to do well on the test,” he said.
Testing will be held from 7:20 a.m to 9:50 a.m., and the regular school day will begin at 9:55 a.m.
Several board members expressed concern about the delayed opening schedules, citing that they are worried about the fewer hours students will have for their classes.
Board president Jeffrey Brookner noted that it is a loss of 15 minutes per class session times 12 class sessions, for a total of 180 minutes lost per class.
“That seems to me a very big sacrifice to accomplish this testing, but I know we have to do it,” he said.
Hayek said the additional bus runs will cost an extra $3,000 per day of testing.
As for the high school, testing will begin with Algebra I on March 2; Geometry on March 3; Algebra II on March 4; Language and Literature I on March 9 and 10; Language and Literature II on March 16 and 17; and Language and Literature II on March 23 and 24.
For Algebra I, there are 306 students to test, 635 for Geometry, 730 for Algebra II, 661 for Lit I, 717 for Lit II and 676 for Lit III. The school has approximately 1,200 computers to use.
The same situation will be found at the Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School, with delayed openings. In the middle school, there are 670 seventh grade and 740 eighth grade students to test, and the school has about 800 computers to use.
In the middle school, seventh grade testing will be from March 2 through March 6, and eighth grade testing will be from March 9 through March 13.
As for the intermediate and elementary schools, Hayek said they are confident they can work out a schedule that will not require delayed openings. The schedule is already set for the intermediate schools, he said, and the elementary school schedule is almost ready.
Grade five testing will be March 2 through March 6, and sixth grade testing will be March 9 through March 13.
Hayek said they are still hoping there is a chance to avoid delayed openings for the high school and middle school.
“We are awaiting the next notification from the Department of Education to see if there are any other ways we could reduce the number of delayed opening days,” he said. “But we have to begin preparing because we have to work out transportation, proctoring and letting parents know.”