PARCC 2017: Parents...Be a Learning Hero!

posted Apr 25, 2017, 7:35 AM by Sandra Gassner   [ updated Apr 25, 2017, 12:56 PM ]
Tuesday, May 2nd marks the first day of PARCC testing at MWES. This assessment allows students to show what they know...what they have learned through the years and test results allow teachers and administrators to plan for instruction to best meet the needs of each student. The last day of testing at MWES is May 10th. Make-ups will follow.

This is the third year our students will be taking the PARCC assessment on a Chromebook, and as was posted here back in 2015, we remain mindful to preserve the classroom environment our students have grown accustomed to; the one in which they feel most comfortable learning! 

The following list provides some good talking points for you and your child as they get ready to take the test.

  1. The test is on a computer (for us, Chromebooks). For most students, this is a big YIPPEE! For others, it is not as exciting as some might predict. Keyboarding familiarity is important, as are some basic computer skills our students are honing. Every minute students spend learning digitally is a step in the right direction, and we have provided time to become familiar with the technology skills students will use on the PARCC. 
  2. This isn't your grandmother’s multiple choice. The multiple-choice questions on the PARCC test are not always asking for one answer; sometimes they are asking for more than one. Often the test asks us to choose an answer for #5, and then #6 asks us to choose the best reason to support that answer. We keep reminding students to choose the best option, even though there might be other reasonable ones. These questions make us really think. As we practice test items similar to the ones our students will see on the PARCC we discuss the answers to these questions and the reasons for choosing particular answers.
  3. What are students thinking? The PARCC folks want to know what students think after they are exposed to two or three selections on the same topic. They want to see how kids compare, contrast and convey their understanding. We have been doing this since the fall, and we are very impressed with how students are now diving back into the reading (close reading) to find supporting evidence when constructing answers. One of the biggest challenges our students are facing is the fact that they have to include so many parts in their written answers. With consistent feedback, modeling and encouragement, we have seen growth in our students’ ability to express opinions using evidence from their selections. Yea!!! 
  4. Basic Skills Remix: In math, students are required to apply basic skills they have acquired over the past several years. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills will be pushed to the limits as students decide how to apply them in challenging problems. We remind our students that they already possess skills necessary to succeed. They only need to commit those skills to their problem solving to make it all come together. 
  5. Families can STILL help! If you are the lucky family member of a 3rd, 4th, or 5th grader, you can provide valuable support! Make sure students are getting adequate sleep, eating healthy and staying active. Remind them every single day that effort affects everything, and that everything we do in school is important.
Yes, our young students are faced with challenging assessments, and have already demonstrated success using the computer to participate in such assessments. We know they will work hard to do their best on the PARCC, but in the end it is the rest of our interactive, reflective learning that determines the success of our school year.

Thank you to Falmouth, MA fourth grade teacher Suzy Brooks for her March 2015 blog post, Searching for PARCCing Spaces. The content of this blog post is taken from her blog, but has been modified to better match NJ students, more specifically the students and families in our K-5 community.