The PARCC Exam Takes Strides
By EMMA CEPLINSKAS The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) has been around since 1993 and the students of Malden High School are no strangers to the exam. The test travels with students in their transitions from elementary school, to middle school, up to their sophomore year of high school. However, testers are willing to try something new because of the technological period students are growing up in. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MDESE) has considered replacing the MCAS with a different exam called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The PARCC exam is not only restricted to Massachusetts; it will also be administered in 16 other states, along with the District of Columbia. The exam aims to “measure the full range of the Common Core State Standards” and to pave a pathway towards college and career readiness as mentioned by the MDESE. The exam strives to not only advance accountability, but also support teachers and incorporate more technology. Similar to the MCAS, the PARCC exam tests English and math skills. In contrast, the PARCC will be taken online to embrace the modern day’s technological advancements. The online assessment also offers greater innovation for students that a pencil and paper test limits. Critics of the PARCC exam are worried that schools will not be properly adapt to the new method of testing. Supplying computers that have a guaranteed Internet connection to every student may be difficult, but the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education hopes to address the issues in the upcoming year. They want to “make better use of technology in assessments” to make a great change in the way children are tested. Testers hope “these new K-12 assessments will build a pathway to college and career readiness at the end of high school, mark students’ progress toward this goal beginning in grade [three], and provide teachers with timely information to inform instruction and provide student support.” The PARCC will be trialed during the school year of 2014 and 2015 and if it is equal to or surpasses the MCAS’ purpose of measuring math and English progression, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will contemplate issuing the PARCC rather than the MCAS. MHS students will have to ready for the new assessment.