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Benjamin School District 25

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PARCC

Letter From Superintendent

February, 2015

Dear Parents and Community Members:

Benjamin School District 25 measures students' academic progress through a variety of teacher-made, textbook-published , nationally-developed assessments. Our faculty has carefully selected these assessment tools based on minimizing time taken away from teaching and learning and providing useful results.

PARCC Background

Illinois school districts are mandated to administer a new series of tests created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) that replaces the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT). This consortium has created the tests to assess the Common Core Standards for our grades 3-8 students in the areas of math and language arts. PARCC was established
with federal funds which included 26 member states in 2010, but there are now only a dozen states and Washington, D.C. committed to using the exam this school year, according to PARCC.

Test Dates

Our students will be taking the first series of PARCC tests (Performance-Based Assessments) over a two week time period starting March 9 and a second series (End of Year Assessments) beginning May 4 for another two weeks.

Concerns

The school board, staff and I have four concerns about PARCC testing to share with you.
First, the total time for both series of exams will be 13 to 14 hours as compared to seven hours on the previous ISAT. Valuable instructional time is being lost due to the length of the exams.
Secondly, students will take the tests online which necessitates students being taught how to use electronic tools such as calculators, protractor, rulers, and highlighters and to become familiar with the exams' formatting. State-required infrastructure trials involving staff and students were conducted. We estimate each classroom is spending approximately five hours to complete these tasks.
Again, precious teaching time has been replaced by the test administration requirements.
Thirdly, we question how useful the results will be since the sample test items appear to be overly complicated and confusing. Students will have to manipulate multiple screens, prompts and the previously mentioned tools. In some cases, students must identify multiple correct answers rather than just a single answer. Attached is a sample of a grade four math test question provided by PARCC which reflects our concerns.
Finally, some parents have informed us of their children feeling frustrated and
anxious about upcoming PARCC exams due to the length of the test, the excessive rigor and change in the test format. We assure the entire school community--parents, student, and staff--that it is certainly not our intent to impose unnecessary pressure on them. I am confident that our students will perform to the best of their abilities.
 
We acknowledge the need for useful assessments that benefit our students and staff. Our school board and faculty welcome accountability, but are wary of the short amount of time to implement the Common Core Standards and the PARCC test administration after only a one-year trial. We pledge to keep you informed of these issues and invite you to visit the school district's website to learn more about this new assessment system.

Sincerely,

Philip M. Ehrhardt, Ed.D.

Superintendent
 
 
 

2016 PARCC Assessment Letter

On behalf of State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D., ISBE’s Public Information Division is sending the attached letter to parents announcing the start of the 2016 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment testing window.
ISBE has also developed two new fact sheets to explain changes to this year’s PARCC assessment administration. They are posted on ISBE’s Hot Topics page at www.isbe.net/hot-topics.htm.
 
 
 
 
PARCC District Comparisons

The staff is analyzing the PARCC results to identify strengths and improvement areas. Also, the results of surrounding districts are being compared to determine districts with high results. We will discuss the factors that made a positive impact in these districts’ results to gain new insights for us to consider implementing.
 
 
 
Updated PARCC Information

The following link http://www.isbe.net/assessment/parcc.htm provides the most current PARCC information.
 
 
 
PARCC Test Shorter Next Year
 
 
 
PARCC Primer

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois PTA are helping educators, students and parents prepare for the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments by offering tools and resources to help familiarize them with the test. Please visit the PARCC Primer site for more information.
 
 
 
 
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