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MEEKER I Results from the initial Partnership of Readiness for Assessment for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments are slowly becoming available. The PARCC assessments tested English and mathematics skills for students in third through 11th grade in the spring of 2015.
While the results for Meeker students will not be publicly available until mid-December, statewide results have recently been released. As anticipated, proficiency levels are lower than those observed on the previous TCAP and CSAP assessments. We should expect lower proficiency rates in the Meeker School District as well.
The PARCC assessments are aligned with the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) utilized by schools in Colorado. With any new educational program or change in expectation, an implementation “dip” should be anticipated. The fact that the state or local proficiency scores are lower should not be cause for alarm.
The CAS have raised academic expectations for students in Colorado and the PARCC assessments are more rigorous in nature than previous state level tests.
The PARCC assessments are also fundamentally different from previous tests. Differences include skills being tested, depth of skill mastery required by students and how the tests are administered (computer based versus the paper and pencil tests previously used).
Additionally, because 2014-2015 was the first year of the computer-based tests, technology glitches occurred in many school districts.
Furthermore, a general perception exists that students in Colorado have been required to spend an unacceptable amount of time completing state tests. As such, opt-out rates for the PARCC assessments were higher than previous state tests. Collectively, these factors negatively influence proficiency percentages.
The results observed in the first year of PARCC testing should be viewed as a benchmark or starting point, to which future results can be compared, but should not be compared to previous state assessments such as TCAP or CSAP.
It is worthwhile to note that testing requirements in Colorado are overly burdensome to schools and students. Our state Legislature has given us some relief from this burden. More relief is needed, and I will continue to advocate for this.
The level of testing in Colorado and the United States significantly exceeds that of many other nations. The turnaround between administration of the tests and receipt of the results is also unacceptable.
Receiving results eight to nine months after the test does not allow teachers and schools to utilize the results in a manner that can benefit instruction. It is my understanding that this turnaround was slow primarily because this was the first year PARCC tests were administered. Future results should and need to be available to teachers and schools much quicker.
In the first year of PARCC tests, it is important for us to have the proper context for potentially lower scores. Nevertheless, I applaud the efforts locally and at the state level to raise expectations for students.
Generally speaking, students will rise to the level of expectation set. We can and should keep the bar high for our students. I sincerely believe our students will exceed these higher expectations in time, which is another reason I am proud to say that I am a Meeker Cowboy!