The PARCC Field Test: What Do Educators Need to Know?

Posted by Zack Blois on Mar 12, 2014 1:35:00 PM
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PARCC field test imageWhether you are directly administering the PARCC field test in the next few weeks or will begin administering the Common Core-aligned assessments next year, this spring's trial run represents a very important step for many educators across the country. 

So, how can you (and your fellow staff members) ensure that this upcoming field test is a milestone, instead of a millstone, for your students?

The first step is to gain a general understanding of what the field test is all about and how it will affect your students and your day-to-day instruction.

What do I need to know?

Let’s assume you’ve been unconscious for the past three months and just today realized you have to proctor these upcoming online tests within your school or classroom. What are the key details you'll need to know? 

We combed through the official PARCC Field Test resources to answer that question:

Basic Field Test Information

Per PARCC, the field test will be offered to more than 1 million students in 16,000 schools across the country, which works out to about 10 percent of the PARCC state's student population.

The Details:
Students will be required to only answer a "subset of questions", which means they are not being subjected to the entire test. Also, students will take either the online-based tests or paper-based tests, but not both. Keep in mind, the student is not given the choice to choose between the online and paper versions.

Additionally, the PARCC folks believe these field tests will take no longer than three hours for "most students".

The Focus:
This dry run provides assessment creators with a nationwide lab to iron out wrinkles and discover technical and pedagogical flaws before the actual tests. With the official tests rolling out next year, this is really the consortium's only full-scale chance to test out the paper and online elements. 

The Stakes:
According to the PARCC folks, no individual scores are being generated for students or classes. This means that they will not gain, nor will they release, any individual scoring metrics.

With that being said, there is obviously an element of anxiety for students and educators involved with any type of standardized test. As noted before, the PARCC team estimates these field tests to take roughly three hours, which is a significant time period within any classroom.

Performance Based Assessment (PBA) Field Tests

The field test takes place in "two stages", with the first being the Performance Based Assessment (PBA).

The Dates and Purpose:
The PBA field test portion will be administered from March 24, 2014 to April 11, 2014. 

The key functionality of the PBA is to test "writing in English Language Arts (ELA) and multi-step, real-world problems in math". (see pg. 1 of this PDF for more info)

End-of-year (EOY) Assessment Field Tests

The second half of this test run involves the PARCC End-of-year (EOY) assessments. Per PARCC, "most" of the students who took the PBA field tests will not participate in the EOY field tests (and vice versa).

The Dates and Purpose:
The EOY field test portion will be administered from May 5, 2014 to June 6, 2014. 

The key function of the EOY portion is to identify student "reading comprehension in ELA and conceptual understanding in math". (see pg. 1 of this PDF for more info)

How can I help parents/guardians understand these field tests?

How you present information regarding the upcoming field test to students and parents can have a big impact on student performance. First and foremost, we recommend emphasizing the fact that the results of this tests have no baring on student grades or achievement this year but will be very valuable for your student's learning going forward.

Additionally, by taking the field test, their students (and you) gain an “insider’s look” at what the actual assessment will look like, virtually risk-free. That can be a pretty valuable experience when looking toward next year's assessment period.

Where can I go for more resources?

If you are still unsure about your responsibilities during the field test, we recommend contacting your school or district's main PARCC contact.

Additionally, PARCC offers a lot of resources designed to answer general questions you may have about the field test. You can find these resources at the official field test page:

More PARCC prep info from the Wowzers Math team         

I hope you found this information helpful as we work toward the beginning of the PARCC test dry run! If you'd like to learn more about what the student-view of the online assessments will look like, be sure to check out our blog post:

   •  "PARCC Releases ELA and Math Sample Items for Spring 2014 Field Test"

Lastly, we'd love to hear your questions, comments, and opinions regarding the upcoming field test. Feel free to reach out to us via our Facebook page or tweet us at @Wowzers.

Is your school ready for the PARCC online math assessments?

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Click here to download the free Wowzers PARCC eBook

PARCC (R) is a registered mark of PARCC, Inc. Wowzers is not owned, endorsed by, or affiliated with PARCC Inc. nor the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, and no fees paid to Wowzers are paid to PARCC, Inc. 

Topics: Common Core Assessments

Wowzers is a comprehensive online math program covering all Common Core State Standards for grades K-8. The research-based program adapts to each learner and allows for an individualized path through the curriculum. Content is presented in multiple ways, and appeals to tactile, auditory, and visual learners. Assessments mirror those found on high-stakes achievement tests and provide teachers and administrators with the information that they need to personalize learning for each student.

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