Providing a high-quality education to over 1.3 million K-12 public school students in more than 2,500 schools is a massive task resting on the shoulders of the State of New Jersey Department of Education, along with the state's teachers, school administrators, support service specialists, and countless other dedicated student advocates.
In order to ensure that the best possible instruction is delivered to these students, the New Jersey school system has availed itself of statewide standardized assessments, developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a consortium that has helped a number of states devise and deliver Common Core-compliant assessments.
It's not just about the testing, but really about preparing students to be successful adults, as the stated objective is to "measure student achievement and preparedness for college and careers." Given its extensive impact on the state and its students, we wanted to share these five facts you might now know about the NJ PARCC Exams.
1. Reduced time.
In what will likely be viewed as a welcome change, New Jersey PARCC testing time will be reduced by approximately 90 minutes for all students who will take the tests in the 2015-2015 school year. Not only that, but the size of the tests will contract, as "students in all grades will participate in 2 or 3 fewer test units."
2. Computer-based item types.
The state of New Jersey has made a swift and firm commitment to providing computer-based assessment with its implementation of the PARCC exams (the previous NJASK and HSPA exams were pencil-and-paper assessments). Starting in the 2014-2015 school year, the state procured and administered NJTRAx, a tool that helps prepare schools in their transition to digital assessment modes.
Testing will not be the sole focus, however, as NJTRAx will "facilitate the movement towards digital learning and not just be a tool for gauging technology readiness for online assessments."
Check out LearnBop’s brand new Technology Enhanced Items (TEI) to see what these new computer-based item types will look like. Teachers can use these new items right now in the classroom to model mathematical thinking!
3. Testing the test itself.
The process of PARCC test item selection has been as rigorous as the test itself. Notably, during field testing each New Jersey PARCC exam item was "reviewed by no fewer than
30 educators prior to field test" and field test outcomes "were then reviewed by 80 educators prior to inclusion on the operational tests."
4. A gradual process.
The transition to PARCC testing was carefully considered and gradually introduced to New Jersey schools. In fact, a transition period of three years enabled a softer landing as the shift was made from NJASK (grades 3 through 8) and HSPA (high school) to PARCC in the 2014-2015 school year.
5. Is it mandatory?The PARCC assessments are required for all of New Jersey's eligible public school students. However, local New Jersey school districts have been granted some leeway in applying "their local policies on how they will work with parents and students to address instances where students attend school on test day but refuse to participate" in PARCC testing.
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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.