Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers | PARCC
Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers
Last week marked the end of testing in the PARCC states. Nearly five million students in 11 states and the District of Columbia completed more than 17 million online test sessions and a yet-to-be-tallied number of paper test sessions.  This is a remarkable accomplishment. I am in awe of what we have accomplished together — states, higher ed partners, advocates, and educators — on behalf of kids.

But the completion of the first administration is hardly the end of the work.  There are two key things still ahead: 
  1. Performance level setting sessions where educators, community leaders and policymakers from the PARCC states will gather to set the "cut scores" for each performance level in each grade and subject, and
  2. The release of scores to parents, teachers and districts in the fall.  

Scores on this year’s first round of tests likely will look different than on previous state assessments. There will be a temptation to compare results on this year’s test with previous state tests, but it is important to remember that the states are now using new, higher standards and assessing students in a new way. Performance levels for many students will appear lower than they did on previous tests.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t doing as well — it just means the expectations are higher. 

Massachusetts’ experience bears out the improvement that’s possible with time and hard work. After the state transitioned to its more rigorous Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System nearly two decades ago, only about a third of students initially achieved proficiency on the test in the first year.  In a little over a decade, close to 90 percent of students had achieved proficiency as a result of educators’ and parents’ dedication to helping students reach a higher bar.  As Massachusetts’ example shows, students can reach higher expectations and will benefit if they are challenged and supported.

That can be the future path for students in PARCC states if we stay the course and give the tests time to work. 

Congratulations to students, teachers, and parents for being part of a historic new test administration and on the end of the school year.

Laura Slover is the Chief Executive Officer of Parcc Inc., the nonprofit organization that manages the assessment project for the PARCC states.


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