Link students recently completed PARCC assessments, which were the NJ state mandated, computer-based test in mathematics and English language arts, aligned to the Common Core Standards adopted by the state. While there was much play in the media about the assessment, the Link community took the task in stride, ensuring that staff, students and parents were prepared for what was to come. Since this is the first year for this test, we will not have student scores until the fall but we look forward seeing our students’ progress over time.
The tests were administered in two parts: in February/March and in April/May. Despite a few challenges, the test process proceeded quite smoothly for our students. Link had the technology ready, but with the number of computers available, only one grade at a time could be tested. There were a few problems with screen freezing and logging in to the test site (attributable to the test software,) but the issues were cleared up with little disruption.
The PARCC assessment replaced the NJASK and HSPA tests, and it has been controversial. PARCC testing has been challenged by with teachers’ unions and parents who: question the validity of the tests, consider the tests to take away from too much instructional time, believe the roll out of the tests was too soon after adoption of the Common Core Standards, claim that teaching hasn’t caught up with test, and assert that schools are not equipped for the totally online test administration. Added to that was parental concern about anxiety of taking a new test, and teacher concern about including the test scores in their performance evaluations. Link was fortunate not to experience the “opt-out” rate that many other schools faced. Our rate was only 2% (5 students) compared to reported rates of 5% – 6% in middle schools statewide and in the double digits in high school. Link informed parents well, speaking to them at the Link Parent Association meetings and sending home written communications. Staff did a great job to ensure that students felt confident going into, and taking, the tests.