Is PARCC a Reliable Assessment For ELLs?


Barb Gomez, National Louis University

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I’ve been listening to my graduate students tell me their reactions to the PARCC assessments created by a consortium of states and linked to the Common Core State Standards. Currently the most “talked-about” assessment is the PARCC and you will find many articles on the NEA website that give a teacher’s point of view. It is time that more teachers speak out about this issue and especially begin to take note of the results of the testing and the evaluation of our common core standards. Maybe more importantly, we should look at the creators of the PARCC assessment. Who is funding it and where does the money come from to create these high-stakes tests?

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a group of states working together to develop a set of assessments that measure whether students are on track to be successful in college and their careers. It is an assessment created by the Pearson Educational Publication Company. It is linked to the Common Core State Standards, and in the news recently, the turmoil of preparing to give the PARCC test in the Chicago Public Schools hit the front page!  There are thousands of children in the public school system of Chicago who are required to take this assessment and many of the teachers feel that they are not prepared to administer it. Many of the schools are concerned with the lack of technology and the number of computers needed in order to administer this test to their students. Consequently, thousands will be taking the “paper test” which will take longer to score.

Some of the anticipated problems with administering the test are the technological issues. The following notice appears on the bottom of one of the pages from Pearson:
Pearson PARCC customer support is a technical resource for schools and districts participating in PARCC. Parents who have questions about PARCC are encouraged to contact their school, district, or state PARCC contact.

The PARCC Customer Support line is currently experiencing intermittent issues with telephone connectivity. Please sign into PearsonAccess to use email or chat to reach Customer Support. We apologize for the inconvenience.
It will be interesting to see the results of this test when scores start coming into the school districts. Will the results be related to the technology issues? Will it truly show what the students know and what they are learning in school? Or will the results indicate that our teachers are not “teaching to the test?” It will be very interesting, to say the very least!
I’m waiting with baited breath!!!
Barb Gomez is an adjunct professor in the language minority department of National Louis University, where she has taught since 2001. As rules and regulations change according to the ISBE, she keeps a close eye to help guide and lead her teachers in the area of English Language Learning.

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ITBE Link - Spring 2015 - Volume 43 Number 1