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Sunday, December 21, 2014
PARCC and APPR more than letters of the alphabet
Howard Schwach

We have long lived with an alphabet stem of acronyms that may or may not have impact on our lives.

Those who live with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy live with FEMA and SBA, for examples, acronyms for organizations that have a great impact on their everyday lives. Those who were not impacted by Sandy feel a lesser impact from those agencies.

The schools too have to deal with programs that are designated by acronyms, usually mandates that are driven by state and federal law and for which no extra funding is available.

Two of those programs mandated by New York State will have an impact on teachers and students in 2014 and 2015, but the financial impact of those mandates – called PARCC and APPR – is already being felt and is having an impact on current budget plans.

PARCC is the acronym for Partnership for Readiness for College and Careers. Under this unfunded mandate, additional state testing of up to 10 tests a year per grade will take place, requiring eight more days of testing each school year.

But PARCC is not only an issue of time, but of money. It requires that a district have sufficient electronic devices or computers to test at one time the largest grade in the school. That means a school with an eighth grade of 500 students, for example, would have to be able to come up with 500 test-appropriate devices.

“There is an inherent cost to the mandate and we don’t know yet where the money will come from,” said West Hempstead school superintendent John Hogan. “The tests will have to be given on some device – stand-alone computers, laptops, tablets – and the way we read it is that all of the devices will have to be the same, because we believe in equal testing conditions.”

“Each student has to have equal access to the test on an appropriate device,” Hogan added. “That costs money.”

Hogan’s financial experts say that the cost may be up to $500,000 for hardware and another $25,000 for software and licenses.

“We are concerned about the costs associated with PARCC,” Hogan concluded.

Officials in the neighboring Malverne school system are concerned as well.

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