Third grade students will spend at least eight hours a year taking Florida’s next standardized test, while high school juniors will spend nearly 10 hours a year to complete the new online exam.
A Florida 8th grader — taking the FCAT reading, math, science and writing tests — will spend 8 hours and 20 minutes on testing this year. Under the new exam scheduled for the 2014-2015 school year, 8th graders will have an additional 65 minutes of math and English language arts testing and will still have to take the 160-minute FCAT science exam.
The test, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, will replace most of the current Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The test is designed to assess new education standards Florida, 44 other states and the District of Columbia have fully adopted, known as Common Core State Standards. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia are partnering to develop PARCC.
Tuesday the coalition designing the test released new guidelines for states, including how much time students will spend taking the test and an interactive tool to help school districts determine how many computers and how much Internet bandwidth they will need.
School districts have said they are concerned they still don’t know what technology will be required to give the online exam — or how much it will cost to prepare schools. State lawmakers are considering delaying the scheduled spring 2015 start date if schools or the test itself are not ready.
As we’ve previously reported, PARCC math and English language arts exams will be given twice a year.
The first round of testing will be given about 75 percent of the way through the school year, or about the time the FCAT writing test is now administered at the end of February. Designers are calling these the performance-based assessments.
The English language arts exam has three sessions given over two days while the math test has two sections administered in a single day. These exams will require students to write out answers or perform tasks to complete the exam. Human reviewers will score the tests.
The second round of testing — which designers are calling end-of-year — is two sections of English language arts given in a single day and two sections of math administered in a single day.
Students will take the second round of testing 90 percent of the way through the school year. These tests will be objective right-or-wrong answers which can be graded by a computer.
Schools will have a minimum of five days for testing and a maximum of 20 days, but states will recommend the number of testing days.
The new PARCC guidelines also suggest schools have at least one computer or tablet per students in the largest grade tested for schools testing more than three grades. The rule of thumb is one device for every two student in schools testing three or fewer grades.
PARCC officials report they still don’t know how much bandwidth the test will require, but say a conservative estimate is 100 kbps for computers actively connected to the Internet and 30 kbps for computers using a cached version of the exam.