Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers | PARCC
Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

By Parcc Communications Team

The PARCC consortium is sharing information that school districts and schools need as they prepare for the spring 2015 administration of the PARCC assessments, including the amount of time they should schedule for each test session, estimated release dates for test manuals and technology guidelines, student registration dates, and when to expect the next round of practice tests.  The information comes just months after the completion of the unprecedented spring 2014 field tests, with over one million students in 16,000 schools in 14 states. The PARCC states learned a lot from the highly-successful field tests, and are already applying those lessons to this year's administration to 5 million students.

Unit testing times (formerly referred to as "session testing times")

The PARCC states have set unit testing times (previously referred to as "session testing times") so that schools can begin the scheduling process. The reduced times are based on two findings: One, finding from the field test showed that it took most students less time to complete the field test in spring 2014 than originally projected and scheduled. In addition, the PARCC governing board recently reduced the number of English Language Arts/literacy text passages and test items, especially in the lower grades, based on a finding that it was possible to measure all the standards reliably with fewer items. The spring 2015 session test times are adjusted to reflect both of these factors. See charts below for test session times.

Time is the scarcest resource in our schools. The PARCC states are keenly aware of the need to maximize the value of instructional time and testing time. High quality assessments measure what students know and can do, efficiently, and then allow teachers to adjust instruction accordingly, making the best use of classroom time. 

The revised times were established so that students would have sufficient time to complete the assessments but also to minimize the amount of time spent on testing. As educators know, this is important to ensure that all children have sufficient time to show what they know and can do. In English language arts/literacy, for example, the session times should enable students to do close reading of the passages, draft their written responses, and go back to edit their work.

The PARCC states are committed to re-examining the unit testing times again following the spring 2015 administration and adjusting the time accordingly to ensure the right balance between generating useful and timely information for teachers and families, and minimizing the time the test sessions take.

Scheduling Units 

Schools must schedule the full unit time so that all students have the opportunity complete the test. 

Unit Testing Time is the amount of time any student who needs it must be provided to complete the unit. It is the amount of testing time schools must schedule for each unit. Students with disabilities and English learners are eligible for an extended time accommodation. (Read more about PARCC Accessibility and Accommodations.)

Estimated Time on Task is the approximate amount of time, based on data from the field test, in which the majority of students may complete a unit. Estimated Time on Task is shared strictly for informational purposes.

Instructional leaders from PARCC states will be gathering soon to offer guidance and share best practices and models for scheduling the assessments. Watch for additional information in fall 2015.

Unit Testing Times

Review unit testing times.

Anticipated release dates for key resources
In addition to today's release of the unit test times, the PARCC consortium will be releasing the following resources in the coming weeks to help schools and districts prepare for this spring's assessments:

  • Test administration manuals. As a result of feedback from the spring 2014 field test, the PARCC states have worked to substantially improve the test administration manuals. The new manuals will be streamlined, with clearer language. One large test manual for all grades has been replaced with manuals customized for each grade band, meaning teachers will not have to sift through lengthy instructions not intended for them. Manuals will be shipped to schools that have registered students and posted on the PARCC website.The test administration manuals include information about test security policies and procedures, as well as tasks to complete before, during, and after testing.
  • Fall block schedule test administration manuals. In some states, high schools that use block scheduling will administer PARCC assessments in December and January with paper-based forms only. Fall block schedule test manuals will be available in mid-October.
  • Spring 2015 test administration manuals. These will be available in early January 2015.
  • Test coordinator manuals. These provide information about registering students, creating security, logistics and training plans, testing times and schedules and receiving, distributing and returning materials. They will be available on the same timeline as the test administration manuals.
  • Technology guidelines. PARCC will post an updated version of the Technology Guidelines for PARCC Assessments in late fall 2014. Anticipated updates include clarifications regarding the use of accessibility tools and supported browser versions. 
  • Student Registration. Registration of students for the fall block testing runs Sept. 8 to Oct. 3, 2014 for schools to upload registration files for both the PBA and the EOY assessments. The training module for student registration has been improved to include clearer instructions, easier navigation and state-specific information. 
  • Practice Tests. PARCC will be adding new practice tests this fall and winter: performance-based practice tests in math and end-of-year assessments in English Language Arts/Literacy. 

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