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An introduction to the Maryland School Assessment tests

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20, 2016 13:11 PM

Students in 3rd through 8th grade must take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests in the spring every year. If you have children in these grades, read on to learn more about the PARCC.

What is the PARCC? 
Maryland students take the PARCC tests annually as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. The reading and math exams occur in the beginning of March, and kids take the science tests in April or May before ending the school year. Each test takes two days to complete for a total of six days of testing. The exams are broken into sections to allow students a chance to stretch their legs, eat lunch and take bathroom breaks. When students begin the PARCC, they'll encounter multiple choice questions as well as queries that require written responses. All year long, teachers follow the Maryland's State Curriculum to ensure students learn the knowledge they need to excel on the PARCC exams. Scoring is tallied using three terms: 

  • A basic score shows a student is not passing or meeting grade-based expectations.
  • Proficient scores indicate a student is passing.
  • Advanced scores mean the student is achieving at a level well above his or her grade standards.

Students who have special needs must take the PARCC. The Alternative PARCC offers a way for students to show what they've learned through a portfolio assessment, which may better suit their individualized learning plans. English language learners may also take a different version of the PARCC.

Why is the PARCC important?
Assessing student PARCC scores helps school districts understand if their students learn at an appropriate age and grade level. Those who make proper academic progress and show high scores on the tests are in the right position to advance to the next grade. The testing also ensures educators have the chance to change their teaching methods or curricula if their students have difficulty with particular topics. The school is better prepared for the next year after learning the previous PARCC scores. 

How can you help your kids prepare?
Students can ready themselves for the PARCC exams by taking practice tests. This will help your kids become comfortable with the testing format. They can try some example questions to reduce exam anxiety.

Doing daily homework is another key to doing well on the PARCC tests. These assignments, as well as projects and quizzes, all contain the information students need to do well on the exams.