"What gets measured gets mastered"—this is the Louisiana Department of Education's credo regarding statewide assessment. The Department also has an equally catchy tagline for the educational system it governs: "Louisiana Believes."
To gain some insight into what they believe, we can take a look at how the state measures the academic progress of its K-12 public school students. Like numerous other states, Louisiana has opted to utilize a suite of tests developed in partnership with PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
Here are five things you may not already know about what makes Louisiana's PARCC assessments unique. Enjoy!
1. Thorough, rigorous development phase.
Built to align with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as well as Louisiana's own set of benchmarks, LA's PARCC assessments were carefully crafted and developed. In fact, the tests were "developed with significant input from Louisiana educators" and were "field tested with nearly 50,000 students in spring 2014."
The result has been a battery of assessments intended to compete with those of any other state, PARCC-developed or otherwise.
2. Older, non-PARCC tests for science and social studies.
For science and social studies, Louisiana's students are continuing to take LEAP (Louisiana Educational Assessment Program) and iLEAP (Integrated Louisiana Educational Assessment Program) exams.
3. An array of accessibility features are available.
With the advent of the new assessments, districts (and therefore students) have been granted access to a number of accommodations. Among them are mp3 and text-to-speech read-aloud resources, test directions available in 10 languages, and testing time limit extensions. Need for these features will be determined by school-level committees along with individual student IEP's, IAP's, and LEP plans.
4. Computer-based assessments are en route.
The transition from pencil-and-paper-based exams to digital assessment is currently in progress throughout Louisiana. While it is true that public school students in grades 3 through 8 took paper-based PARCC assessments during spring 2015, the plan is to have student move to computer-based assessments in the spring of 2016.
Check out LearnBop’s brand new Technology Enhanced Items (TEI) to see what LA's new computer-based item types will look like. Teachers can use these new items right now for free!
5. The opt-out question remains a topic of debate.
While it has been reported that hundreds of students in Louisiana expressed their intention not to take the state's PARCC exams, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is in the process of determining their response to the opt-out movement. Meanwhile, "Opt out of PARCC" billboards have been spotted in the city of Shreveport-Bossier.
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About the Author
David Moadel is in his third decade working in education. He has taught, mentored, and inspired students from elementary age through adult. David has earned his master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the American College of Education, and is currently a certified teacher in Florida. David enjoys teaching, writing, and utilizing technology tools to communicate with people with diverse viewpoints across the globe.