The governing board of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has voted to make the tests aligned with the Common Core standards shorter by about 90 minutes next year.
The tests, which were introduced in 11 states and the District of Columbia this year, were met with anger by some parents, teachers and school administrators who felt that too much time was being devoted to the tests.
In addition, the board voted to offer the exams during one 30-day testing period closer to the end of the school year starting next year. When the tests were administered this year, they were given in two time frames: one in the early spring and one later on in the spring. A number of parents and teachers did not support the additional testing period, arguing that it disrupted class time.
“Next year’s PARCC tests will take less time away from lessons, and cause less disruption to school schedules, while still keeping students on track for college and careers,” Lillian M. Lowery, Maryland’s state superintendent of schools, said in a statement.
PARCC is one of two groups chosen to create Common Core-aligned tests through funding from the Obama administration. The idea behind the tests is to make it easier to compare student achievement across state lines. However, membership in PARCC has dropped significantly since 2010 when there were 26 states involved. Earlier this year saw a number of protests arise in the remaining states who participate in PARCC as parents decided to opt their children out of the exams, writes Emma Brown for The Washington Post.
For some states, the change comes as too little, too late. Lawmakers in Ohio are currently considered dropping the use of the PARCC exams altogether, with many saying they need to better understand the changes being made before any final decisions could be made. In addition to less time spent on the tests, the panel said they would like to see the results of the exam be returned faster, as well as increased flexibility in administration of the exams, reports Catherine Candisky for The Columbus Dispatch.
Exams are administered to children in grades 3 through 8, and then one more time in high school. The length of the test depends on a student’s grade level. While third grade students will see a decrease in testing time from 9.75 hours to 8.25 hours next year, high school students will see the time they spend taking the exams drop from 11.1 hours to 9.7 hours.
According to PARCC officials, the changes come as a result of feedback from teachers and school districts.
“This is very much driven by what the states have been hearing from their schools and districts,” PARCC spokesman David Connerty-Marin said. “The test still measures far more than other tests, so there is plenty of material to maintain the reliability of results.”