A new unfunded mandate from the State Education Department, that could be implemented at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, would create eight more testing days for students in grades three through 11. The change concerns parents and could strain school district technology resources.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is designed to track a student’s progress through a set of exams in English and mathematics that aim to better prepare students for college and jobs by the end of high school.
Linda Kreisman, who has two children in Hewlett-Woodmere schools, does not believe that more testing will help students. “I’m not a fan,” she said of PARCC. “I think it takes away from the classroom instruction, puts undue stress on the children, and costs the district money that they will not get back from the state.”
Dr. Ann Pedersen, the assistant superintendent of academic affairs for the Lawrence School District, said the goal is to create common assessments among the states that currently implement Common Core Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy, History/Social Studies, Science and Mathematics. Adopted in New York in 2010, Common Core focuses on conceptual comprehension and functions, beginning at the preschool level. “In Lawrence we currently operate using data to drive instruction,” Pedersen said. “This includes diagnostic, formative and summative assessments. The multi-layers of the PARCC annual testing have the same intent.”
PARCC’s balancing of non-fiction and fiction texts in grades K – 5, text-based answers, academic vocabulary, depth of understanding mathematically and applying math to real world situations have already been implemented in Lawrence’s schools. “Our instructional leaders and teaching staff are prepared to meet the increased rigor of the new assessments,” Pedersen said.