by Sophie King
Select students from this school will participate in pilot tests in April and June for a new nationwide standardized test, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
PARCC, which will test grades 3 through 11, could replace MCAS as early as the 2015-2016 school year, according to a letter sent to Newton families by superintendent David Fleishman in February.
The purpose of the field test is to examine the quality of the new test, practice administration procedures, and give schools and districts the opportunity to experience the new assessment, according to Fleishman’s letter.
“In order to get a test to be reliable and fair, we need to field test it,” said vice principal Midge Connolly. This school was randomly selected to participate, she said, however, students will not see their results.
Although this year’s field test is on paper for students at this school, students will take the test online if it is implemented. This will allow for immediate results, and interventions for struggling students will be possible right away, Connolly said. In addition, the test will be timed.
PARCC aligns assessments to the Common Core State Standards, which were adopted as the Massachusetts state standards in 2011, according to Fleishman’s letter. The Common Core is a recently developed set of college and career-ready standards that has been been adopted by 45 states, according to its website.
Out of 21 Newton public schools, 15 have been selected to participate in the field test, and eight sections of math classes from this school will take the test.
Two freshman math classes from this school will spend two days in April and two days in June undergoing testing, and two junior math classes from this school will spend two days in April participating, according to Connolly.
“I’m supposed to take the ACT the same weekend so I’m annoyed about taking two days of standardized testing in the same week,” said junior Nathan Buchwald, who has been selected for the test.
Junior Michael Norris, who has also been selected, said, “I think it’s stupid. We shouldn’t have to take it.”
Connolly said that the administration has “discussed how badly” it has felt and “how difficult it is for you guys,” and tried to limit the impact of the field test on the selected students with already stressful days. The selected students will take the test during their math block and one additional block.
The PARCC test, which is based on “deeper knowledge and understanding,” according to Connolly, will not affect graduation requirements before the Class of 2019.
There have already been changes in the Newton Public Schools because of the Common Core, such as material “going deeper rather than broader,” she said. This school will continue to implement changes with more professional development.