What do we know about the tests we take?

For the past three years, PARCC and Common Core have been a part of the MCPS curriculum with students and faculty having expressed praise and criticism for the new system.

Marie Koch, assistant principal to the class of 2019, agrees with the fundamentals of Common Core. She says, “I think the ideas of Common Core and using more project based learning is excellent because that’s what you do in the real world.” Common Core teaches strategies that focus on putting information to use and can, therefore, be beneficial to students.

However, Ms. Koch doubts if students know how PARCC relates to their graduation requirements and whether or not they have to pass it to get their diplomas. She says, “I don’t know how well we have done with getting the message across because there are so many requirements for each class.”

Among students, there is much confusion. Many do not know what a passing score is, or even if they have to pass the PARCC. Sophomore Ally Adams says, “I just assumed you have to pass it, but that is all I know.”

The truth is that each graduation class has different requirements for passing. Starting with the class of 2019, students must receive a passing score on PARCC in order to graduate, and each year the cut-off increases. Next year, the incoming freshman class has to score higher than this year’s freshman in order to pass and graduate.

Another commonly perceived flaw of the test is its length. The PARCC is spread over numerous days and can last almost 4 hours. Since many students finish the sections early, with significant time left, they fall asleep. Ms. Koch comments, “I do find that students suffer test fatigue, and for most kids it’s just too long.” Falling asleep during the test has shown to lead to less effort put in by students taking the test.

In fact, many students, like sophomore Ta’Tyani Young, when asked what advice they would give to test takers, said, ”Fuel up with good food so that you can stay awake during the entire test.” But Young has a negative opinion about PARCC. She says, “Honestly, I think PARCC is kind of pointless.

There are many problems related to PARCC, including time and length, which many people, including Ms. Koch think is a weakness associated with PARCC. She says, “I do find that students suffer test fatigue, and for most kids, it’s just too long.”

With different methods of testing and grading, including the change to PARCC grading, students should know that you have to pass PARCC to graduate. And while PARCC continues to be a heavily debated topic, students will continue to take it. Always remember, as Adams says, “Take your time, do not rush, do not fall asleep.”