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What is Common Core?

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What is PARCC?
The PARCC assessment is the standardized test that the state of New Jersey has selected to measure the implementation of the Common Core Standards for Mathematics and English Language Arts Literacy.  PARCC was developed collaboratively to measure students' ability to apply their knowledge of concepts and skills rather than identifying particular facts.  "In 2014-2015, the PARCC assessments will replace the existing statewide assessments -- the NJASK in grades 3-8 and HSPA in high school. New Jersey has been transitioning the NJ ASK to measure the CCSS over the past three years to provide local districts and schools the time necessary to shift practices and prepare students and educators for PARCC." (New Jersey Department of Education Website)

Who takes the PARCC assessment?
All students in grades 3-11 will be participating in these technology based summative Assessments in Mathematics and English Language Arts this Spring.  In addition there are specific assessments for students taking Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry.  There are Performance Based Assessments (PBA), administered in March, and End of Year (EOY) Assessments, administered in April/May, in all areas.  Click here to read the Commissioner Hespe's memo about students participating in the Statewide Assessment Program.

What are the PARCC assessments like?
PARCC is an online summative assessment that is designed to measure students' growth in English Language Arts Literacy and Mathematics.  The Performance Based Assessments (PBA) are intended to be administered when students have completed 75% of the school year.  The PBA measures students ability to write in English Language Arts (ELA) and to solve, multi-step, real-world application problems in mathematics.  Within the PBA students are expected to "show what they know."  There are 3 sections (units) for each ELA assessment and 2 sections (units) for mathematics.

The End of Year (EOY) assessments are intended to be administered when students have completed approximately 90% of the school year.  The key functions of the EOY assessments are to identify students' reading comprehension levels in ELA and conceptual understanding in mathematics.  In grades 3-5 there is one section (unit) for ELA and 2 sections (units) for the mathematics EOY assessments.  In grades 6-8 there are 2 sections (units) of ELA and 2 sections (units) for mathematics.

When do students take the PARCC assessment?
The State of New Jersey and PARCC have identified the following testing windows for the PBA and the EOY assessments.
  • PBA in grades 3-11: March 2 - 27, 2015
  • EOY in grades 3-8: April 27 through May 22, 2015
The testing windows help us to establish dates for all of the testing for the district.  This has allowed us to ensure proper time to complete the assessments as well as to ensure that the appropriate technology is available at each school.

How long do students have to take the PARCC assessment?
In Byram we opted to have students in all grades take only one section (unit) per day.    PARCC has provided us with unit times for each testing section.  The unit time is the time allotted for students to take the section of the test.  Click here to learn more about the specific unit times of each grade level.  

What will my child’s schedule be like on a testing day?
The testing will begin during first period for students when it is their testing week.  Once their testing has completed they will have a delayed opening schedule and have all the classes they are scheduled for on that particular day.  Grades that are not testing on that day will have a regular schedule. 

What accommodations can my child access as part of the PARCC assessment?

PARCC offers many universal accommodations for all students. These include the ability to highlight selections, flag items,  and cross out answer options. We will be teaching students how to access accommodations that they are used to using as part of their typical daily instruction. PARCC stresses the importance of matching the types of supports to those that students are used to using in the classroom and will continue using after the PARCC test.

How does the amount of time on PARCC compare with the amount of time on NJASK?
Students in grades 3-8 participated in 4 days of testing with NJASK.  Students in grades 4 and 8 had an additional day of testing for the Science NJASK.  With PARCC students in grades 3 and 5 will be involved in a total of 8 days of testing.  Grade 4 will have 9 days as they are still required to take the Science NJASK.  Students in grades 6, 7, 9, 10 and 11 will have 9 total days of testing under PARCC.  Grade 8 will have 10 days as they are still required to take the Science NJASK.

How are schools preparing students for the PARCC assessment?

Preparing for the PARCC is often misinterpreted as teaching to the test.  A good assessment is designed to ensure that students are learning what they need to know.   PARCC is aligned to what we are teaching…not the other way around. PARCC testing mirrors the kind of high quality work students are already doing in our classrooms throughout the year.

Two years ago the New Jersey State Board of Education mandated that all public schools realign their curriculum to the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Math. Since that time the Byram School district has been working hard to provide our students with twenty first century tools help them meet these challenging goals.  Our students have benefited from the regular use of  technology (SmartBoards, iPads, chromebooks, and laptop carts) as part of their daily instruction. This has made reading, responding, writing and researching on the computer a natural part of a student’s repertoire of skills. In addition we have continued to expand our Integrative Design program K-12 where STEM initiatives are infused across the curriculum encouraging creative thinking, collaboration and problem solving.

When will we get results of my child’s performance on the PARCC assessment?
Since this is a standards setting year, we anticipate getting results from the PBA and the EOY assessments in late September or early October. In the future PARCC results should be returned by the end of the school year.

Will PARCC scores be used to determine a student's placement for next year's class?
. We will continue to use the multiple measures approach to determine a student’s eligibility for all classes.

PARCC Questions