Saturday, May 16, 2015

PARCC is CCRAP spelled backwards - The Plagued Parent

PARCC is CCRAP spelled backwards - The Plagued Parent:
PARCC is CCRAP spelled backwards


As of Fall 2014 a new standardized test is to be implemented in the District of Columbia and 12 states, including my home state of Rhode Island. This new test has the dubious title of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness For College and Careers (PARCC) and it sits at the center of a perfect storm brewing between states, the US Department of Education, testing and publishing companies and the Gates Foundation’s Complete College America initiative.
Ok, (deep breath), before I go any further let’s get some disclosures out of the way. This blog is a joint effort between my wife, Christina and myself. While she does write some posts her job seems to be predominantly social media guru and editor-in-chief. I prefer to just write. Often she suggests topics to keep the rotation of posts “fresh”. Today’s direction is supposed to encompass the topic of parenting. She suggested that I focus on the PARCC, but followed up with saying, “Don’t be preachy.” In other words I have to watch overloading on the stats and try to calm the f*&@k down.
Problem is… I can’t.
This topic infuriates me. First, I am not against testing as a means of assessment. However, my questions are as follows: Is this the right metric to implement? What will we gain from analysis of the data from that metric? How will those results assist in teaching and learning? How does the data help in enhancing student achievement and performance? And to be clear achievement and performance are not the same PARCC is CCRAP spelled backwards - The Plagued Parent:

Here comes the monkey; PARCC is back!

Well, an email came through the other day from my daughter’s middle school. PARCC is back. Next week begins round two of the standardized test that has been the object of derision by parents and classroom educators since last February.
Across the nation, in reaction to this misguided implementation, parents, students and teachers have been organizing, protesting and ‘opting out’ of this Godzilla of standardized tests. As a result many school systems are evaluating the validity of PARCC testing. Superintendents in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana and the District of Columbia have all publicly decried the test.
True this has not stopped any of them from scheduling the second portion of this years assessment, but it certainly has given some state departments of education pause. Even in my home state of Rhode Island, the Department of Education has confessed that the test was taking up too much instructional time statewide. As if that weren’t enough, in the same month the NECAP will also be administered. That is the test supposedly being replaced by the PARCC.
Wait a second. What?
No, you read that right. Two standardized tests in the same month. That’s ten days of testing that will cost approximately 20 hours of classroom instruction. Right now it is May 6 and my daughter has been informed that only 14 instructional days remain. My daughter graduates 8th grade on June 17. Does this make sense? Right now my daughter’s current math grade is a 73, and maybe it’s just me but I would think a better use of my daughter’s time would be actually focusing on what she is or is not achieving with respect to her classwork rather that determining her “placement” relative to a percentile of her cohort.
Opting out of the PARCC is making administrators concerned. Yesterday (May 5) a local news channel aired a story regarding opting out of PARCC.  The story offered statistics for districts across our state; one town reported the highest opt out rate of 35% with the lowest rate being around 2%. A local superintendent was interviewed who downplayed concerns suggesting that when a student opts out this affects the overall results, and the results will affect school rankings. The superintendent tried to appeal to civic pride — people want to move to districts with high performing schools and when kids opt out that affects outcomes. Outcomes, as we all know affect rankings and