Politico Pro: “PARCC Panelists Puzzle over Cut Scores”

According to a recent Politico Pro article*, twelve 20-member committees are gathering this week and over the next month to determine what levels students will need to reach to attain a proficiency on new PARCC exams, which will indicate whether a child is on track for the next grade level. Panelists say they are mindful there may be gaps between how student doing now and how they hope students will perform in the future. “It may be a tough test, but it’s going to give us a true reflection of where our students are and what help they need,” says Marti Shirley, an Illinois math teacher. About 5 million students took the PARCC tests this past school year. The new tests, which hold students accountable to more rigorous content, will provide a better measure of how well students are really doing as they prepare for life after high school, advocates say. “[Students] show up to college believing that they are ready and fail, and their parents have taken out loans and they’ve taken out loans,” says Loretta Holloway, a college teacher. Participants added that they aren’t letting politics affect their work. “We are setting the levels to determine where are they now and so that ultimately teachers around the country can help bring students up to that ideal,” says David Knecht, a New Jersey English teacher.

New high-quality assessments like PARCC hold students to high academic expectations that reflect the skills and knowledge they need to have to be college- and career-ready. Because the tests set the bar higher, the assessments provide parents and teachers with better information about how well their children are really doing, and gives them the tools to identify and address learning needs. As the Honesty Gap analysis highlighted, states have taken the difficult first step of providing better information to parents by implementing new assessments. A Teach Plus study earlier this year found nearly 80 percent of teachers surveyed believe PARCC tests are better than those their states used before.

*no link available at this time