A walk in the PARCC or not?


Sydney Czyzon, Features Editor

PARCCRecently, on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, JTHS freshmen participated in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam. The new standardized test focuses on Common Core State Standards and consists of a Mathematics portion as well as an English Language Arts/Literacy portion. It is administered to adolescents in kindergarten through twelfth grade, with 12 U.S. states participating in the test.

Although PARCC’s website describes the exam as “more rigorous,” several Joliet West freshmen disagreed with this statement. Alyssa Rodriguez admitted, “I thought it was really unnecessary and they gave us too much time for so little questions.” Her peer, Savana Delrose, agreed by stating, “It was easy and there was a lot of time between.” According to some, the PARCC test seemed to give excess time for each portion. “Overall, students were given anywhere from about 75 to 90 minutes for a test. “All students consistently finished early,” stated English teacher Mrs. Vercelote, who administered the test.

Furthermore, last year’s trial PARCC test seemed to be exceptionally difficult for students. Freshman Bianca Lozada took the PARCC test the past two years and revealed, “This year was a lot easier, last year was just ridiculous.” Does this mean the PARCC test-makers took student feedback into consideration?

On the other hand, some teens claimed that the test was challenging. “I think it was unnecessary. I feel like it was really long and it dragged on. We didn’t learn any of that,” explained Lexi Tatum. Moreover, Jeffrey French expressed, “Some parts were difficult. There was no point to it. Plus, technical issues were a factor as students had to take the exam on their devices.”

The consensus among most seems to be that the test was pointless; after all, it is likely that colleges will continue to require the ACT as opposed to the PARCC. Mrs. Vercelote observed, “A couple students made a comment about not really worrying too much, because they feel the results don’t ‘really’ mean anything.”

However, freshman Jack Pierson conceded, “It was probably a good thing that we took it, it challenged us,” although stating, “There were too many essays – a lot of reading.”

Joliet West Testing Coordinator Mrs. Stapleton elaborated on PARCC’s purpose, saying, “The goal is to assess students on standards and for those standards to be universal from state to state (if states are using it).” She admitted that “it will take some time for all groups to acknowledge and accept PARCC as a valid and reliable source,” but that it can provide advantageous data about pupils.

Also, when asked whether or not the PARCC exam will replace the ACT, Mrs. Stapleton replied, “I don’t have that answer, but JT will continue to do its best to ensure [that] we prepare our students for whichever tests are required or preferred for state accountability and/or college entrance.”

In addition, The Illinois Council of Community College Presidents (ICCCP) recently approved a policy that encourages colleges to accept a performance level of 4 or 5 in math or English language arts on the PARCC test in order to put students into credit-bearing classes without requiring remediation. Institutions of higher education can also create policies for math that allow a 3 on PARCC in combination with having passed a higher-level high school math class to allow a student enroll into a credit-bearing math class.

Many students and parents are understandably concerned about the spontaneous requirement of the PARCC test. Some parents are even pushing for an opt-out option for students and many petitions are seen circulating social media about this exam. State lawmakers are overseeing the matter, but currently all students are forced to attempt the PARCC exam.

While some students think the test is easy, others maintain that the assessment is overly-challenging. All in all, the success of the test will be determined in upcoming years. Results are expected to be lower in the beginning but the results will pay off in the long run. For the time being, the test will continue to be administered to the JWHS class of 2018 and all incoming classes. For more information on the newly-introduced PARCC exam, visit http://www.parcconline.org/about-parcc.