Problems with PARCC

My wife, who knows more about MCAS, PARCC and teaching then I will ever know, had this to say about the PARCC:

YES, PARCC is MUCH worse than MCAS for a host of reasons.

  1. Parts of the test are administered several times a year – which is more disruption to learning time.
  2. It is a timed test – which adds undo stress to little kids.
  3. It is on the computer which means teachers will have to be teaching keyboarding skills as early as 2nd grade.
  4. Because it is on the computer, the math portion of the test will be incredibly inappropriate. I am a math teacher. I ask students to show their work. How do you draw an array, a fraction bar or a picture on a computer? If a child does try to “do the math” they have to correctly copy down the numbers on a piece of paper, do the math and then type their answer – lots of room for typing/copying errors.
  5. In writing, we teach students to brainstorm, write an outline, write a draft, edit the draft, proofread. In a timed test, they don’t have time to do all of this important work. Those who have taken the pilot say they barely had time to simply type stream-of-consciousness answers.
  6. In the reading portion, students are asked to read a passage on the computer, scroll down, answer questions, read another completely different passage, answer questions and then read a writing prompt that asks you to use information from both passages and write an essay. The student is expected to easily be able to scroll back and forth between the 2 passages and then write a coherent essay – under time pressure. This starts in 3rd grade! A 3rd grade prompt I saw was something like “Pick a character from each passage and write a story where they meet and discuss something – making sure that each person retains the point of view and character traits seen in the passages.”
  7. PARCC questions seem to be written to trick students. “Pick two ways…” “Answer 7 multiplication questions as part of one question.” Etc.  The student now has more ways to be incorrect. One wrong answer means the whole question is wrong.
  8. PARCC questions are also very wordy – terrible for ESL students.
  9. PARCC is supposed to give feedback to schools faster but it’s not true. Schools currently receive the multiple choice portion of MCAS by early June so they already have a sense of how the class did. PARCC results would arrive in a similar time frame. The essays would still take time to grade – and that grading would be centralized somewhere far from Massachusetts with Massachusetts  having no control over the quality of timeliness of the graders.
  10. PARCC is supposed to be cheaper because one test would be made for multiple states. Who is to say once those multiple states sign up that PARCC would not increase its prices?

There are more reasons but hopefully this gives you a taste.

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