During the week of March 9-13, K-12 students across MCPS were some of the first to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (or PARCC) exam. The test is currently being administered in 12 states and the District of Columbia. While some students saw the standardized exam as a refreshing, updated test, others viewed it as an unnecessary bore and a distraction from vital class time.
The PARCC test focused on two subjects: tenth grade English and Algebra II. The first focused on Literary Analysis, research paper formulation, and narrative writing. The Algebra II exam tested essential computation skills and quantitative reasoning with various functions.
One new aspect of the PARCC test was the utilization of Chromebooks. As with every new test, there were some glitches in the system. At Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, many students received an error message when attempting to log in to the test, and one of the passwords supplied for the classes was incorrect. Another issue was that after the second half of the exam, administrators informed students they could leave once finished. This prompted many students to rush through the second part, with a sizable number finishing that section within minutes.
Many students felt annoyed with the PARCC tests. BCC sophomore Nick Berlinski had a particular issue with the Algebra section, noting that “showing your work on a laptop is a pain.”
Sophomore Shauli Guttman said that the PARCC “was a waste of my time.” Guttman claimed he “could have been doing something much more productive” and the test seemed “unnecessarily challenging.”
Another student who agreed with Guttman’s sentiment was sophomore Carly Sturm who stated that the “reading articles were way too long” and that the multiple choice questions were confusing, as “they were a matter of opinion.” Sturm had her own creative way of dealing with the “vague” essay questions. “I just put my own spin on things by writing a lengthy biography of Jennifer Lawrence,” Sturm retorted.
However, some students appreciated the value of the exam and saw it as an improvement over previous standardized tests. Sophomore Liam Walk described the ‘hype’ over the PARCC exams as ‘overblown’. “It wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be,” remarked Walk. He went on to say, “it was actually more insightful and thought provoking than most standardized tests.”
Sophomore Rachel Cohen took a long term view when evaluating the PARCC. Cohen stated that “the PARCC assessment was good because if it is going to be used in the future students need preparation for it.”
The rollout of the new standardized test was by no means flawless. Yet some students are happy to see a change from traditional methods of exams and welcome the new technology. Indeed, any decision about standardized testing changes is sure to be a controversial one.
Article by the MoCo Student Staff Writer Max Cohen of Bethesda Chevy Chase High School
Image by MoCo Student staff artist Nina Enagonio