Sunday, April 17, 2016

Rhode Island Teachers Respond to PARCC

This weeks article, Rhode Island Teachers Respond to PARCC: A White Paper, by Dr. Janet Johnson and Brittany Richer discusses the findings of a survey administered to teachers regarding the PARCC testing. The goal of the survey was to discover how teachers perceived the PARCC test and how it affected their teaching,  how the test affected students learning and well-being, and how it affected the school atmosphere. From the results of the test they organized the data into major themes-students perceptions and response to the test. how testing effected teaching, the impact of testing on educational policies and finally they proposed a solution.
  • In the article, they talk about how students have a lack of technology readiness and this made me think of a meeting my sister attended at her sons' school. Earlier this year, their school had an informational meeting for parents and it was recommended that parents  should invest in buying their child a laptop or PC so that they become more comfortable with using technology which will benefit them for PARCC testing. My nephews attend a middle class public elementary school where 7% of children qualify for school lunch (I tried to find other demographic information but this is the only info I could find) . I wonder if they have this same discussion with other schools in the district such as a working class public elementary school that is only 3.7 miles away and 66% of the student population qualify for school lunch. There is a huge disparity here because of course these test scores are going to be higher because these students have access to the resources while students in other areas of the district do not have the same access to resources.  The result of the two schools PARCC assessments are pictured below. I wonder what the results would be if both students had access to technology in their home.

Middle Class School

Working Class School

  • "When asked more specifically about their students' understanding of the test, the results are even more disheartening. Of the 263 respondents who work with students with IEPS, 90% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that those students understood most of the questions on the test. The students' lack of understanding was made real by the tears teachers had to see fall from students' faces" (7). I can really relate to this feeling as I recently administered a standardized test called the Brigance to evaluate my students academics. The test is interactive in the fact that I have a specified script I have to follow when I administer the questions. My student easily became confused by the questions and began to engage in tantrum behaviors. It was disheartening because I knew my students knew the answers but was unable to successfully answer the question because of how the question was asked; because he was unable to answer the question in a specific manner, I had to mark his answer as incorrect thus not really showing his abilities. I completely agree with the statement "the time wasted on this test could be better spend working to boost their skills" (7). I missed out on an hour of academic program time to administer a test that did not show his skills. I could've used that time to work on his IEP goals such as letter and number identification and other skills that are more pertinent to his day.  Standardized testing truly does take time away from "real" teaching.
 I do not have any direct experience with PARCC testing but sitting in professional development trainings and special education classes I hear a lot of negative talk about PARCC from teachers. I enjoyed reading the article to really see what the true frustration is and that it resonates with all teachers, not just special education teachers. I agree with the potential solutions and think they are a great starting point. Teachers know their student population very well and can offer insight that will help to make the test a more successful measurement tool.


  1. Like I said on Lindsay's blog post this week, it's nice to read from someone who has a bit more experience with standardized testing. And you're right! Teachers do know their student population really well, and unfortunately standardized testings just don't test students on things that count. It's laughable that PARCC stands for college and career readiness.

  2. Such an important point, Alicia! Schools are recommending parents purchase computers for their children in order to better prepare them for their PARCC exam… Yet, many Rhode Island parents would seriously struggle to be able to provide and laptop or PC for their children. And as we’ve discussed in class, we know that many schools don’t provide students with these resources. I really appreciate you telling us about your experience with the Brigance exam. I think your point is exactly what the study was talking about.

  3. Thanks for sharing! The disparity in scores from the middle class vs working class schools is quite revealing and I'm sure that access to technology plays a part. I was shocked by how demanding the PARCC test is as far as tech knowledge! Students are expected to do all sorts of things, such as navigating different windows and highlighting evidence in a text that supports a claim -- demanding both cognitively and technologically!

  4. Alicia, I like the graphs comparing the two schools. Last year the school had a problem logging into some of the tests themselves. It seems that when everyone tried to go on at the same time, that the network for Providence could not handle it. The instructions for how to operate and choose was confusing as well. Unless a student had some kind of experience with this certain drop downs and everything, they would struggle. We were told do nothing to help them. This was what was really frustrating. We could not even show them where to navigate or look for the answers and so on. Maybe after years of taking these tests they will become more familiar where things are. They should spend the money on textbooks and extra help rather than a test that helps no one but the test company.