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States vote to shorten PARCC tests for students

THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2015 16:57 PM

The 2014-2015 school year was the first in which the Common Core State Standards-aligned tests were fully implemented in all participating states. This means that the CCSS and its testing partners will likely have a few kinks to work out before next year's tests roll around. And the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has already found one: This year's tests were just too long for students. 

PARCC agrees to shorten tests next year
PARCC, one of the Common Core's testing partners, says it's going to shorten both math and English/language arts tests for the 2015-2016 year. This decision is based on a vote held by the states that use the PARCC tests, according to a statement. They'll reduce the mathematics tests by 60 minutes and the ELA tests by 30 minutes at each grade level, and they'll hold testing in only one round. This year, students took the Core-aligned PARCC tests in two separate rounds in early and late spring. All 11 states that are currently administering PARCC tests, along with the District of Columbia, unanimously voted to reduce the testing time.

How much difference will the shortened testing make?
Though many policymakers and educators want the test times reduced even more, PARCC officials say that shortening the exams by just 90 minutes will make a big difference for students. The 90-minute reduction means students will spend about 15 percent less time testing next year than they did this spring. Rather than taking the test in two rounds, which teachers say was very disruptive to students' learning, they'll be able to perform testing in just one round (of about six or seven days) at the end of the year. Plus, according to J.C. Benton, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education, this refinement is just the beginning.

"We will continue to work with school district administrators, teachers and our partners in the General Assembly to better streamline the assessments in the best interest of students," Benton told

In other words, the following years could bring about more changes to PARCC, based on what educators and school boards feel is and isn't working.

PARCC is one of two testing services aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by 43 states. The testing service's governing board is made up of superintendents and education commissioners from all 11 PARCC states and the District of Columbia.