Dr. Henry R. Johnson, Jr.
is Assistant State Superintendent of Curriculum, Accountability, and Assessment at the Maryland State Department of Education.
PARCC assessments will measure the content and skills contained in the new Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards. In school year 2014-15, the PARCC assessments in mathematics and English Arts(ELA)/Literacy will replace the current State assessments in those areas. For more information »
Maryland and 11 other States began field-testing the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) assessments in March of 2014. The new, computer-based assessments, covering English language arts/literacy and mathematics in grades 3-8 and at the high school level, are aligned with the new Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards, which were built on the Common Core State Standards.
The field test in Maryland is one of the nation's most extensive. Approximately 65,000 students in the State took either the math or the English language arts/literacy exam.
The PARCC assessments have been three years in the making. They are replacing the Maryland School Assessments (MSA), which have been in place for the last decade. These new advanced assessments are aligned to new standards, the user experience will be totally different, the scoring is different, and for the first time, Maryland will be able to examine deeper learning, critical-thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills needed for career and college readiness.
Both the English language arts/literacy and mathematics portions of the test are designed to be taken online, although a paper and pencil version will be available for at least three years. PARCC is working to keep the assessments "device neutral," allowing students to take PARCC on a range of devices including desktops, laptops, netbooks, and tablets.
In school year 2014-15, the PARCC assessments in mathematics and English Arts(ELA)/Literacy will replace the current State assessments in those areas. The PARCC assessments will measure the content and skills contained in the new standards.
Over time, the computer-based PARCC assessments will yield results more quickly than traditional paper-and-pencil tests, delivering information on student learning that teachers can use to help inform instruction. The PARCC assessments will also be more engaging to students, asking them to solve problems, write essays, and answer questions that resemble the kind of high-quality coursework found in effective classrooms.
The PARCC assessments in English and mathematics are completely new exams, based on new Standards, and scored on a different scale. The results will not be able to be compared with MSA results.
Maryland is a governing state in PARCC and Maryland educators in K-12 and higher education have participated in the test's design and development. Additionally, State educators are playing an important role in providing information about PARCC to their peers and public through the State's Educator Leader Cadre.
MSDE and PARCC are providing a variety of training tools to prepare school personnel for the field test and next year's full implementation of the PARCC assessments. Local Accountability Coordinators (LACs) in every school system have received training from MSDE on administering the field tests and the LACs are, in turn, providing training to local School Test Coordinators.
Teachers will receive instruction from their School Test Coordinators. Test Coordinators also will be able to provide access to PARCC training modules, tutorials, and other resources through PARCC's training management system.