Most states are moving toward Common Core State Standards – a new way of teaching that dives deeper into fewer topics.
That means new assessments are on the way.
Florida is phasing out most of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The new PARCC assessments are scheduled to be in place for the 2014-15 school year.
PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessments of Readiness for College and Careers.
More than 20 states and the District of Columbia are working together to develop the tests for K-12. (23 other states are part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium – a different set of assessments also aligned to Common Core.)
Florida Education Association President Andy Ford has some issues with the new tests.
His biggest lament?
“Teachers are never asked for their input,” Ford said. “That’s most of the problem this state has.”
He said a lot of players are involved in developing the assessments, including education services company Pearson.
“So they’ll be developing it, and we’ll hopefully hit the target,” he said.
Then there’s the amount of time students will spend on testing. Ford is afraid PARCC will consume even more of the school year.
“Right now, we test far too many days out of the year. Somebody’s taking a test almost half of the school year, and that’s just absurd,” Ford said.
“It’s a four-system regimen that’s planned,” Ford said. “I understand that some of the tests could take two weeks to administer.”
Fords thinks that’s too much assessment.
“Some kids are just so stressed over testing,“ Ford said. “If we can’t figure out what our kids know and don’t know in a shorter period of time, we’re just messing with their minds.”
Ford would rather see assessments given only at the beginning and end of the year to measure progress.
Plus, critics of the FCAT say teachers spend too much time teaching to the test. Ford thinks it could happen again.
PARCC will be given at least twice a year: Once near the end of February and again near the end of the school year. PARCC will also offer two optional tests that could be given and the start of school and midway through the school year.
In total, students will spend more time taking the test than they did with FCAT. And more students will take PARCC exams because the tests will be given to 3rd and 11th graders.
Ultimately, Ford’s not sure PARCC will be any better than FCAT.
“I’m hoping that the Department (of Education) and the Legislature understand that if we go exactly the same route, we’re going to have the same result,” Ford said. “PARCC will just become the new FCAT and people will hate it just as much, as opposed to having an assessment that people can believe in.”