PARCC Tests cause controversy

Michael Smith, News Editor

Freshman at Palatine High School are taking the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test this week, along with freshman from 12 other states across the nation. Yet, many groups are criticizing the PARCC test for overburdening students from freshman in high school down to third graders.

In District 211, freshman are given more than five standardized tests over the academic year on a national, state, and district level. The PARCC test in particular covers many of the standards presented with the Common Core Initiative that is now active in 46 states. The edition of the PARCC test given this week was the Performance-Based Assessment, while a second, End Of Year test that will be given in May.

For younger students, many parents are outraged about the difficulty of the PARCC test for elementary schoolers. An in-depth readability analysis of the publicly available practice PARCC tests found that many of the literary excerpts on the PARCC test far surpassed the grade being tested. Specifically for end of the year tests for 4th to 6th graders, the average reading level of tests were two years above the grade level of the students.

In response to parents outrage, as well as a lack of adequate technology to dole out the PARCC test, Chicago Public Schools originally decided to only test 10% of their schools back in January. Yet, under recent pressure from state education officials, the CPS has reversed course at the last minute. CPS will now test all 230,000 eligible students in order to avoid losing millions of dollars by denying the federal mandate.

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett explained that “There are huge, huge financial sanctions that have been very clearly delineated to us. It would be irresponsible for me to even put us in that position of danger, of losing the funds, given our financial conditions now.”

Criticism of the PARCC test was expected by its creators, especially with this being its debut year. Yet, many supporters of the PARCC test have been surprised by the amount of backlash, especially from parents that sign off on their children missing the test, the so-called the “opt-out” movement.

Superintendent of the Millburn Township in New Jersey James A. Crisfield asked “[O]pting out of things with such broad brush strokes is different, and taken to its extreme, this new version of opting out will destroy public education as we know it today… [W]hat’s to stop a parent of a high school student in 2015 from opting out of a bunch of other things that school does, too?”

The next portion of the PARCC test will be administered on March 17.