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Are PARCC Tests Engaging?

One concern many parents have had through the years regarding standardized tests is the lack of engagement. Standardized tests tend to be all about filling in the bubbles, with little to no engagement from the students. This is difficult for our 21st century students, who are used to engaging in technology and hands-on learning experiences. However, the new PARCC test strives to eliminate these concerns, by creating a more engaging testing experience for students.
The PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) is based on the belief that assessment should not be about penalizing educators and school districts, but a tool to help enhance teaching and learning. The goal for PARCC assessments is to give teachers, schools, and students a better understanding of how to prepare our kids for careers, college, and life. The plan is to do this through computer-based assessments.

Why Computer Based Assessments?

Computer based assessments deliver results to students in real time. Teachers will not have to wait for the results, which can then be too late to help the students.
Computer based assessments are more engaging for students. In our 21st century world, students are used to digital devices. Technology has advanced and our students process and relates information differently than they did in the past. Online tools accelerate and enhance students learning and should replace old fashioned paper and bubble tests.

PARCC Assessments Resemble Real Classroom Work

The PARCC assessments include texts that are worth reading and problems that are worth solving. The Language Arts assessments will look more deeply into a student’s writing abilities and critical thinking skills. On the math assessments, students will solve more complex problems, be required to show their work, and demonstrate how they solved the problem. The new assessments will be more like classroom work, unlike the traditional bubble tests.
The goal of the PARCC assessment is to measure what the children are learning in a more meaningful way. By allowing students to learn by doing, and engaging them in challenging tasks, students will grow to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. The PARCC test strives to provide items that are the kinds of activities used by good teachers in classrooms during daily instruction.

What do the Students Think?

In 2014, a PARCC field test was conducted, and the results found that overwhelmingly students felt that the tests were more engaging. Overall, students across all grades were able to complete their tests successfully using the computer-based assessment. This included being able to type in short and long questions, scrolling through their reading passages and moving on from question to question.
Students also reported to observing researchers that they found the computer-based assessments engaging. Additionally, they reported that overall they had a more positive experience with the field test and found it easy to use. Students reported they were able to understand the directions and were able to finish in the time allotted. Most found the content familiar, but overall more challenging than their schoolwork. This was especially true in the mathematics section of the field test.
The overall goal of the computer based PARCC assessment is to provide a testing experience that is better for our 21st century students. Due to technology our students no longer relate to traditional pencil and paper tests. The PARCC assessments are more engaging, requiring students to solve problems and write essays. This type of testing better resembles the kind of high-quality education that is found in effective classrooms.

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