@PARCCplace : More bang for the buck?

The PARCC folks and Common Core cheerleaders like to talk about the next generation of standardized testing.  Are these new tests worth the $29.50 per student cost? In my state of New York that would triple the cost of the current 3-8 testing program.  Of course we will also need to seriously upgrade technology in an era of massive school funding concerns.  I wrote previously about the impact on an individual school.  Recently PARCC released its computer-based sample tests.  Shaun Johnson made a few insights into some of the issues surrounding the new online testing last week. As a long time Seventh Grade teacher,   I decided to take a look at the middle school samples:

(click on images to enlarge)

Screen shot 2014-01-27 at 8.18.20 AM

The first part of the middle school sample is a biography of Amelia Earhart.  Not impressed so far, a canned reading with the same paragraph numbering and multiple choice follow up questions as the “old school” assessments.  Nothing revolutionary here.

Screen shot 2014-01-27 at 8.56.08 AM

The next page is interesting, students get to drag and drop statements into a timeline.  A little computer technology here, very little.

The next few pages continue with multiple choice questions related to the main readings, again how is this different that previous state assessments?  Another drop box exercise and then this:

Screen shot 2014-01-22 at 8.38.52 PM

A video on a standardized test?  Ok, this is a new idea, some students might find these questions using media easier to decipher than the readings.  Oh no, an error?  Yes this will happen.  My school adds new computers in a hodge-podge fashion every few years.  When we do a windows update over the summer disaster awaits as the different computer types react in various ways.  With a variety of desktop computers, laptops and tablets, compatibility will be a serious issue and even the best preparation will not prevent problems on testing day.

Screen shot 2014-01-27 at 9.10.02 AM

Going into the world of online assessments, the written essay is one of my major concerns. Student keyboard skills vary widely.  Would the essay portion of the test increase the assessment time needed? I have heard that some schools are giving primary aged students keyboard skill classes.  Is word processing the latest form of test prep?

I find the entry for typing the essay troubling.  As a frequent blogger, I like to be able to see the majority of my text, the small entry box for the written portion does not allow for easy review or editing.  I can see student frustration at a high level with this typing format.

The sample continues with another reading and similar multiple choice and essay format.  Is the PARCC assessment really a next-generation test program for the future?  Does PARCC really change the way we assess students?

Connect with Chris Cerrone on twitter:  @Stoptesting15


  1. Karen Carinha says:

    I reviewed some of the Emelia article and agree that it is frustrating to not be able to see the entire article at one time. Im sure frustrations will mount quickly. Keep on reporting and helping to keep everyone aware. thanks

  2. I think putting exams on-line will lead to more testing accommodations. Many of my special education students object to doing homework on-line, so taking a test will also present a problem. They have trouble reading from the screen (“The words are moving.”) They can’t circle clue words. They can’t write notes to themselves. They have to take their eyes off the screen to use paper to solve the problems. They have trouble finding and pressing the keys.

  3. I have been asking people in my school district if they have any guidelines/goalposts/standards/suggestions/guesses for the degree of typing capability.
    What should a 10 year old be able to do?
    How much and how often should they practice each week?
    Needless to say, I am not getting any answers.


  1. […] more on the PARCC testing samples here at Chris Cerrone’s recent post on this topic. How about the potential for nealry 18 weeks of computer based testing under PARCC? […]

  2. […] Cerone thinks they look more or less like the same old standardized tests, but way more […]

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