Last Monday [March 9], District 65 began the administration of the Performance Based Assessment of PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). Each of our schools has now administered at least one of the testing units to students. While there are still many students that have yet to begin the assessment, we are pleased to report that things are off to a fairly smooth start.

Each day, members of the district leadership team and staff have visited schools and worked alongside testing coordinators and principals to assist and monitor the administration of the assessment. Thus far, there have been no widespread issues related to technology and the majority of students have been able to complete the testing units successfully. A few students did experience difficulty in completing the assessment, but teachers, computer technicians, and central office staff were able to resolve these issues. We are disappointed that these students experienced problems with the assessment, but we are encouraged that testing has so far gone much more smoothly than during the trial in February.

In speaking with students and teachers about their experience with the PARCC assessment, we have been pleasantly surprised by their feedback. Many students have expressed that they felt comfortable in using the technology and that the test questions were not as difficult as they had anticipated. The time allotted for the first testing unit was 75 minutes, yet many students completed the unit within 30 minutes. While we understand that the testing experience was not the same for all students, we are cautiously optimistic about the test experience, thus far.

The testing window for the Performance Based Assessment is open through April 2, 2015. During this time, students in grades 3-8 will complete five testing units. Testing dates and times during this window will vary by grade level and school.

There have been a small number of students that have refused to take the assessment during their designated testing time. We will continue to be respectful of a family’s decision for their child to refuse taking the exam. As a reminder, if more than 5 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 do not take the assessment, District 65 will fail to meet its state accountability obligations and is at-risk of losing $7 million in state funds. 

Dr. Goren is Superintendent of School District 65