Wednesday, April 1, 2015

PARCC phase one done

We have completed the March testing window. I am in a middle school of about 450 students grades 5-8. We took one grade level a week, mostly in computer lab settings. I was a proctor each session so I witnessed a total of about 120  general education students take the recent PARCC testing. Here are my first hand observations :

1. It was SIGNIFICANTLY easier to administer than NJ ASK  paper testing.  The accountability for students to log in and out of their own testing material removes the responsibility from school districts. Our technology person is a superhero so we did have a smooth technology set up with few bumps in the road.

2. The technology wasn't perfect but was easily fixable with no unsolvable problems.

3. The timing was extremely generous. The majority of the students finished in about half of the testing time they were allotted.

4. The content seemed manageable. As per PARCC security testing procedures I wasn't permitted to view actual test questions, but judging from the body language of the majority of students and the comments made in the hallways the material was appropriately challenging.

5. Most students did take it . There were 0 optouts in grade 5 , a couple in grade 6 , a few more in grade 7 and about 10 out of approx 100 in grade 8.

6. Most students did take it seriously. There were a few students who clearly rushed, put any answer and had no intention of this test measuring their actual skills. It was a pattern in a few families. Clearly conversations were had at home by parents that said... do not take the test seriously.

7. This is a mystery to me. Never as a parent would I advise my child to approach something new and /or potentially difficult with a rebellious or defeatest attitude.

YES, a good chunk of instructional time was used for this. YES our resources were disrupted for administration. YES we have to do it again in May and I do wonder about the value and validity.

BUT I am very hopeful that the results will be meaningful and useful to us ( when they finally get approved) for programming, placement and remediation purposes. As a content area teacher would I be eager to be judged on students performance ?... not exactly, but I can live with a small piece of my evaluation being my students GROWTH, not their achievement , because that really depends on the students you are dealt.

Online testing is here to stay for sure. Hopefully the data we gathered can be analyzed to be useful. I witnessed 0 children harmed during the testing process. Just wanted to share my observations.

As always, hoping for the best,