PARCC Provides Parents and Teachers with Accurate Information to Better Help Students

In a letter to the Santa Fe New Mexican, members of the MASTERS Program Charter High School argue PARCC assessments take the excitement and pride out of student learning.

“Instead of seeing our students excited by inquiry and exploration during testing, we saw them suffering from apathy and fear,” the authors allege. “When it comes to human beings, ‘One size does not fit all.’”

The letter further claims PARCC does not address the problem of students graduating underprepared for college or careers, because they don’t provide “timely feedback or useful diagnostic information.”

In fact, high-quality assessments provide parents and teachers with one of the best tools to measure students’ development of skills and knowledge necessary to succeed at high levels of learning, and ultimately in college or the workforce.

Mounting evidence indicates PARCC is one of the most effective measures of student progress. Research by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) finds PARCC reflects the range of reading and math skills students need; align closely with classroom instruction; and are both rigorous and age-appropriate.

“[PARCC] tests aren’t perfect,” Pam Reilly, a participant in the NNSTOY study, wrote earlier this year. “But I can say with confidence these new assessments are the kind we should want our kids to take.”

Like the NNSTOY report, a two-year study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute finds consortia exams (PARCC and Smarter Balanced) outperform other assessments on the market because of a close alignment to states’ education standards, their depth of cognitive demand, and their appropriately complex content.

Across the country, most states have begun to provide more accurate information about how well students are really doing by implementing honest assessments. An analysis by Achieve found 26 states significantly closed their “Honesty Gap” over the last two years. Likewise, a Harvard study notes, “The Common Core consortium has achieved one of its key policy objectives: the raising of state proficiency standards.”

Jim Cowen points out in a new memo, states that choose to “go it alone” by creating independent assessments jeopardize their ability to compare progress to other states and may end up with weaker assessments in the process.

“Leaders should resist temptations to go it alone, otherwise they risk undoing the years of work to get to this point,” Cowen concludes. “High-quality student assessments are one of the strongest tools teachers and parents have to ensure students receive the support they need. That shouldn’t be surrendered to the political winds of the moment.”