PARCC exam replaces PSAE, gauges growth among students

PARCC exam replaces PSAE, gauges growth among students

Georgia Arvanitis, asst. news editor

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) was a required test taken by all junior English classes and students that are enrolled in Algebra 2 on March 11-23.

The PARCC test was administered on students’ Chromebooks and was given during designated English classes and SRT for the math portion of the PARCC.  It replaced Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) due to a change in standards for mandatory state testing. There will be more tests administered April 27 to May 12.

According to Principal Dr. Brian Wegley, the PARCC test will help improve the school’s curriculum in the future. Wegley acknowledges that the test still needs improvement and is not currently at the level it needs to be.

“The PARCC test is in its infancy,” Wegley said. “Anytime you are starting an initiative like that there is going to be things the company figures out how to improve through time.”

The PSAE was split into two-day testing: the first day the ACT and the second a WorkKeys exam (to evaluate job skills) and a science-based assessment. The PARCC test, however, has been aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

While the PSAE was solely multiple choice, the PARCC included both multiple choice and essay portions. The multiple choice questions have also been altered; some questions require students to select all accurate or possible answers.

When given options as to how they felt about the test in a non-scientific Oracle-conducted survey of 118 students who took it, 81 percent determined they “hated” taking the PARCC test while 19 percent “didn’t mind” taking it.

According to junior Megan Briggs, the PARCC test was not taken seriously by many students due to the fact that Illinois was one of the few states taking it, which made it seem unncessary. The test was administered to 13 states in the 2014-15 school year.

“I think that if the testing population was larger, more students would be inclined to do their best like on the ACT,” Briggs said. “I didn’t thoroughly read the questions like I would have on other tests that I feel are more important.”

Sophomore Kalina Barneva felt the format of the PARCC test was unfamiliar, which made it more difficult. Particularly, the math portion of the PARCC test included short and long responses as well as multiple choice.

“It made it a little bit harder for me because I’m mostly used to filling out tests that are mostly multiple choice and I feel like I have to put in a lot more work [into my answers] if I have to explain what I’m doing [by] describing the process of finding my answer,” Barneva said.

Some students, such as Barneva, didn’t have a strong opinion on taking the PARCC test. Most students who chose the option “I didn’t mind taking the PARCC test” thought of it as another standardized test with the same educational value as any other.

Cameron Muir, associate principal of curriculum and instruction, believes that the PARCC will properly evaluate GBS’s success in reaching CCSS.

“The Common Core State Standards primarily address two or three areas,” Muir said, “One [is] math and then the other two are English [and] language arts. […] So that’s what the PARCC test [is including] right now.”