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An Intro to Illinois PARCC assessments

THURSDAY, JANUARY 14, 2016 10:40 AM

The Illinois State Board of Education adopted the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which is aligned with the Common Core state standards. Students in grades 3 through eight take English language arts and mathematics tests. Learn about these exams below:

What is the PARCC?
All students in third through eighth grade must take the two PARCC tests each year. The scores from these exams allow teachers, administrators and stakeholders to gain insight into the successes of the school and its inhabitants. Students take these tests in spring or early summer before the school year ends. Some schools use the paper tests while others opt for the computerized version. There are also special varieties of the PARCC test available for students who are English language learners, require braille testing or are in special education classes. This allows for every student to have an equal opportunity to take the exams and do the best of his or her abilities.

Why is the PARCC important?
The Common Core goal is to prepare students to move from one grade to the next and eventually on to post-secondary education and careers. Using the statewide PARCC allows individual schools and districts to compare their student and teacher performance with others in the state. This promotes success and allows schools to establish if educators need to alter their teaching methods to better suit the students. Low student scores may indicate that teachers may have to spend more time on a particular area to really delve into the topic.

PARCC scoring also shows students what they should work on to be ready for college when the time comes. Some states even accept Common Core aligned testing as college entrance testing in lieu of the ACT or SAT. Check with any schools your children may apply to in case these institutions will recognize PARCC scores.

How can you help your children prepare?
Much of your kids' in-class work will be in preparation for the PARCC. Their daily homework assignments, quizzes and tests are all based around the Common Core Standards. You can also help your kids succeed by encouraging them to try practice tests. Doing these pretend exams beforehand will give your kids a chance to get familiarized with the test format, which may reduce testing anxiety and improve their grades.