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PARCC Updates for April 2017

Administration Building
25 Valley Road
Princeton, NJ 08540

Tel: 609.806.4203
Fax: 609.806.4223

During the weeks of March 27 through April 7, 2017, the Princeton Public Schools will administer to students in grades three through 11 assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or PARCC. Make-up tests will be administered after Spring Break.
The assessments were aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards, which focus on critical thinking skills and students' ability to read, write, speak, listen and solve "real-world" problems independently. The standards were developed with the goal of ensuring all students are college and career ready and were internationally benchmarked to ensure students are academically competitive with their peers around the world.
The PARCC assessments are intended to mark students’ progress towards the stated goal of college and career readiness.  Moreover, it is hoped that over time, the assessments may provide feedback to the district regarding the efficacy of our current curriculum and instruction.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will my child take the PARCC test?
Students will take the PARCC test during the weeks of March 27 through April 7, 2017.

Week of March 27:
*Littlebrook:  Grade 3
*Johnson Park:  Grades 3 & 5
*Community Park:  Grades 4 & 5
*Riverside:  Grades 4 & 5
JWMS:  Grades  6-8
Week of April 3:
*Littlebrook:  Grade 4 & 5
*Johnson Park:  Grade 4
*Community Park:  Grade 3
*Riverside:  Grade 3
*PHS:  Grades 9-11
Make-ups will occur within the 2 weeks of testing, where applicable, and after Spring Break.

How much time will the testing take?
The testing on most days will take between 80 and 110 minutes, depending upon the day and the grade level.

What are the protocols if I choose not to let my child take the PARCC test?
In the Princeton Public Schools, we do not endorse parent refusal to have their children take the state-mandated assessments. In addition to being a graduation requirement for students beginning with the class of 2020, the tests also provide us with some helpful information about students and programs at every level. Having your child take the PARCC also provides an important opportunity for your child to experience this type of testing.

We do recognize, however, that for those parents who choose not to have their child tested, a sensible, fair and child-centered set of protocols is in the best interest of all students. Clearly communicating those protocols in advance will avoid unnecessary confusion and misinformation as the testing dates approach. Our goal in outlining the following protocols is to minimize stress for children and families, to enable our schools to plan appropriately for space and other logistical considerations on the days of testing, and to enhance the smooth implementation of the PARCC assessments that we are legally required to administer.

Please keep in mind as you consider what is in the best interest of your child that passing the PARCC assessments for Language Arts and Math at the high school level is currently a graduation requirement for all students who will be graduating in 2020 or beyond. Taking the test in earlier grades helps students become familiar with the testing and allows teachers to analyze the results and improve curriculum and instruction.

Protocols for test refusal are described below:

  • Parents must submit a written statement or email TO THE BUILDING PRINCIPAL prior to the actual dates of testing in which they document their intention for their child not to take the PARCC assessment. We strongly urge parents contemplating the submission of such a statement to do so by March 23, 2017 so that schools may plan accordingly. We encourage you to retain a copy of your written statement. Please understand that your early response will help our schools organize the needed technology, staffing and other resources needed.
  • Children whose parent(s) have submitted a written statement of intent and who attend school on a PARCC testing day will be marked present for the day. During the testing periods, those children will be located in a room separate from the “testing environment,” and will be asked to read or work independently and quietly while supervised by a staff member. The testing on most days will last between 80 and 110 minutes, depending upon the day and grade level, and we encourage those children not sitting for the test to bring a favorite book or other material to read during that time.
  • Children whose parent(s) have NOT submitted a written statement of intent and who are not present on the day of the assessment will be marked absent and will sit for the PARCC make-up test as scheduled. Similarly, children whose parent(s) have not submitted a written statement of intent and who arrive at school after the testing is completed, will be marked as tardy for the day and absent for the test. Those children will be required to sit for the PARCC make-up test as scheduled.
  • Children whose parent(s) have submitted a written statement of intent and who do not attend school during testing will be marked absent. Those children will NOT be required to sit for the PARCC makeup test. The reason these children will be marked absent is because even though the PARCC testing is taking place on that day, it is not the only activity occurring throughout the day. Similarly, children whose parent(s) have submitted a written statement of intent and who arrive at school after the testing will be marked tardy, although they will not be required to sit for the makeup PARCC test. Thus, even if you choose for your child not to take the PARCC tests, we encourage you to send your child to school on time on the testing days unless there is a verified reason not to (e.g., illness, doctor appointment).
Is PARCC a graduation requirement?
The answer is a qualified “yes.”  The New Jersey Department of Education has announced that passing scores on designated PARCC assessments in English Language Arts and in Mathematics will be a graduation requirement.  HOWEVER, because the test is still relatively new, some current high school students (class years 2017, 2018, and 2019) are allowed to use other standardized assessments to meet the requirement (see link below for specific details). In the event that a student cannot meet the new requirement with any of the allowed standardized tests, there is also a “portfolio assessment” option. For the list of standardized tests that the Department of Education accepts to meet the graduation requirement, please click on the link below dated October 2016. Also, please know that our guidance counselors are prepared to work with all of our students to ensure they meet the graduation requirements.  Students in the class of 2020 must take the PARCC assessment in both English Language Arts and Mathematics as outlined on the link below.  Students in the class of 2021 and beyond will need to take and pass PARCC as described in the August 2016 update below.
Additional information can be found in the PDF below:

NJDOE Graduation Requirements.pdf

What are the New Jersey Student Learning Standards?  How do they relate to PARCC?  And will my child be prepared for the assessments?

The Common Core Standards were developed by teachers and experts across the country and have been adopted by 42 states and the District of Columbia. New Jersey recently revised the state standards with revisions to the Common Core Standards.   As noted at the beginning of this document, the standards were developed with the goal of ensuring all students are college and career ready and were internationally benchmarked to ensure students are academically competitive with their peers around the world.  At PPS, we have embraced the Common Core standards since their adoption by New Jersey in 2010 because they emphasize high-level problem solving, integrate literacy across content areas, and place a value on research, evidence-based interpretation of texts as well as visual media.

Our teachers and administrators have worked to align our district curriculum to the Common Core for the past several years, and our teachers and students have been working with these standards since 2010. PARCC is the assessment that has been specifically designed to measure student progress in the Common Core, but is also aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. Because of the work done by PPS teachers to meet the high-level learning expectations set forth by the standards in each classroom, we believe that our students are well prepared for the content and skills assessed through PARCC.  No additional, PARCC-specific “test prep” work, which takes time away from meaningful teaching and learning, is necessary or desirable. Stated simply: good instruction leads to good test results.  

What value does the district see in PARCC?

Over time, the PARCC assessments have the potential to provide us with a record of progress for each student in meeting the state standards.  We believe the multi-year results may also be valuable for parents to see their children's academic progress in reading, writing and mathematics.

Ideally, the assessments will aid us in evaluating not just our pupils but our programs. Valid assessment results over multiple years could give us a picture of the strengths of our curriculum and also insight into those areas in need of enhancement.  Unlike prior standardized tests, such as the NJ ASK, the PARCC assessments are designed to provide us with more specific details about the content that students should demonstrate in their responses to particular questions.  The analysis should allow us to see how our students performed on a wide variety of areas relative to other students across the state and nation. This type of data will allow us to drill down more deeply into the quality of our curriculum and instruction.
The PARCC assessments’ computer-based format is more interactive and visual than the previous pencil-and-paper test.  The computer-based format also has the capability of assessing students’ skills in important areas such as comprehending information from visual media such as video news clips.  

Much of the value of the PARCC assessment is in its potential. The district recognizes that, with only two years of data collected, we are still in the very early stages of taking measure of the assessment’s actual value.

What we do know, and will continue to focus on throughout the school year, is that our children are known best through their daily contributions in the classroom, through their personalities and performances, and through their acts of kindness and compassion. We are, nevertheless, hopeful that over time, the PARCC assessments will add to our array of multiple measures through which we strive to know every child - their strengths and needs, their unique talents and passions.

How does PPS use the PARCC results?

According to the NJDOE, the stated purpose of the PARCC assessments is to mark studentsí progress, both statewide and within local school districts, in English and Math from third grade through high school toward the identified goal of college and career readiness. In the PPS we are able to use these results to assess curriculum, inform instruction, and provide student support.  The assessments show specific areas of our curriculum where our students are performing particularly well and may also reveal those areas where we can bolster student understanding. In addition, we can use the results to assess the progress of individual students over time. The PARCC assessment is one measure among multiple measures that is used to identify students who need support through the districtís Accelerated Intervention Services (AIS).  

Currently, our ability to use the PARCC results as a highly valid instrument of evaluation has been limited by the participation rate of our students. Since a significant number of students, particularly at the secondary level, refuse the test, it is difficult to draw valid district-wide conclusions about the overall performance of our programs and our students.  If our participation rate increases in the next few years, we will be able to glean better information about our studentsí performance. Please note that at this time, with the exception of the AIS program, the PARCC assessments are not being used for placement decisions.

Where can I find more information about my child's score reports from the 2016 PARCC assessment?
Individual Student Records will be mailed to families.  
For more information about the reports, click below:

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