STAFF EDITORIAL: What is PARCC Spelled Backwards?

For the state of Illinois administration, PARCC means measuring student progress, and to Illinois students, it’s a form of boredom and punishment.

Tom Tom Staff

In a school system that seems to increasingly revolve around bubbles on a Scantron and numbers on a score sheet, the last thing students want is yet another standardized test. Not to much surprise, the State of Illinois has introduced just what most students and even teacher despise: a new test.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, better known as PARCC, is defined as “an assessment tool used to measure student progress in math and English Language Arts.” The PARCC assessment is replacing the widely known Prairie State Achievement Exam, taken by students in English I and Math I, by the State of Illinois that began in early March of 2015. This assessment requires students “to solve multi-step problems, read critically across multiple texts, support answers with evidence, and write in various formats.” The assessment is broken into nine different exams: the first five are taken in March and the last four are taken in May. The mission of the PARCC assessment is to prepare students for all of the skills previously listed. The PARCC test, however, sounds oddly familiar to the PSAE. These facts certainly raise the question of why was it necessary for the state to transition to a different but identical assessment.

The PARCC is a company owned assessment that is the American College Testing’s (more commonly known as the ACT) friendly competition. In reality, the PARCC test and the ACT are identical, so eventually replacing the ACT with the PARCC would be not only monotonous, but also ineffective.

Students who take the PARCC assessment never receive their scores and neither do the teacher proctors. While the PARCC company can monitor and view student progress, both students and teachers will remain in the dark when it comes to knowing areas of strength and areas in need of improvement. Students who have taken the ACT or tests leading up to the ACT will know that their scores are always readily available, making it easy to see which areas need to be concentrated on more in the classroom.

The traditional format of the PSAE has been instilled in student’s brains since the beginning of high school, and even before. The new format of the PARCC is different and also considered to be more difficult. With groups of questions that correspond, if a student gets one question wrong it could cause them to get the rest of that grouping incorrect as well. A format such as this one surely makes one wonder whether the State of Illinois is testing student knowledge or student ability to win a strategic guessing game.

The freshman class of Antioch Community High School, as well as other schools across the state, was the first official class to take the PARCC tests, the process in and of itself took about two weeks until all the students had finished and that is only the first portion of testing.

Although there are certainly benefits to the PARCC test, as well as all other standardized tests, the true issue is that the State of Illinois is trying to fix a system that has run smoothly for many years. Why fix something that isn’t broken?