Each spring, Franklin students and teachers know what time it is, and after weeks of preparation, they are ready for the real deal--the computer-based, standardized P.A.R.C.C. testing! After months of learning, it’s time to put their knowledge to the test.
P.A.R.C.C., or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, is a standardized test based on Common Core curriculums. Third through eleventh graders take it online every year. It includes a literacy or English Language Arts section, as well as a Mathematics section. The literacy element includes questions about vocabulary, summarizing, character change, sequencing, details, main ideas. In addition, they write a story or essay, which is based off of one of these three tasks: Nonfiction Analysis, an essay based on various nonfiction texts to answer a question, Literary, meaning close examination of characters and a story’s structural elements in a narrative text and writing about a theme or observations of characters, or Narrative, writing a narrative story or retelling a text from a different point of view, or extending a text. The Mathematics test includes word and regular problems from addition to units of liquid volume, and everything in between, including fractions, multiplying and properties. P.A.R.C.C. takes place in Summit with the older and more seasoned grades facing the test first, and the less experienced, younger grades later, with more time to prepare. Each grade gets a range of 30 days to complete the three literacy units and the four math units. In order to complete the testing in a short five days, the math tests are often given twice a day.
When the test is taken, students will be given privacy cubicles, and the desks will be arranged in tidy and strict rows. On the website, there are several helpful tools designed to help tone down the impact of the test by helping students, like calculators, protractors and rulers, answer eliminators, and notepads. There are, of course, strict rules: teachers are absolutely not allowed to interfere while students’ brainpower is hard at work, there is no talking, and the parts of the school not testing must travel quietly to respect the testing students.
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The test also features a computer-based scoring system. In approximately seven months, parents and teachers will receive heavy packets of scores: parents will see what their student scored out of 850 points, and they will also see how their child(ren) did in comparison to the school, district, and other students. On the other hand, the principals and teachers get baffling charts on their comparison to the district, state, average student, and other schools, and each individual student’s score in brief. It tells which students met, approached, exceeded, and did not demonstrate the curriculum standards. They use these scoring charts to see what the teachers could do to improve their curriculums and methods of teaching, and also select the student's teacher in the next grade and whether they get extra help or extra challenges. “The PARCC really allows me to analyze our teaching strengths and where we can strengthen our instructions,” says Franklin’s principal, Ms. Mirrione.
So, what do students and teaches think of this infamous test? There is a wide assortment of opinions. Sometimes, kid’s opinions based siblings’ experience. Most third-graders, who take the test for the first time, are nervous, but once they see the easier-than-reputation test format, they ease into the test with confidence.
“It [P.A.R.C.C.] helps you keep note on what you’re good at, and what you need to practice,” says Delaney, a fourth grader who completed the tests. Even though the tests can be threatening, students get an opportunity to showcase their brilliant gifts for wrangling numbers and words.
Lexie M. is a Fourth Grader at Franklin Elementary School.