Testing, testing, one, two, three…

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PARCC or “The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers” represents an attempt to create a national set of K-12 assessments in English and math. The PARCC test is aligned to the new Common Core standards. For any readers unfamiliar with the Common Core and PARCC, I recommend scouring the internet on both topics. PARCC is around the corner from me now, less than twenty-four hours away.

So what happened today?

My students spent over half their day preparing for a genuine, end-of-quarter science test. I stole some time from other subjects to make this happen. A colleague and I have been swapping kids back and forth so they can get all their subject matter tests finished. We are about there, except for make-ups. I intend to make myself available for five or six hours on Saturday so we can finish the make-ups. As the quarter draws to a close, we are shoving subject matter at the kids as fast as practicably possible.

That said, PARCC is going to suck up the next three days directly. We have already lost time and internet connectivity to this test. More time will be lost next week, even before we factor in PARCC make-ups. I am going to begin tracking test time again, focusing on standardized-testing time. I ought to include subject-matter tests, but I’ll leave that can of worms for the fishes. Let’s just note that about 1/5 of my week goes to subject-matter tests in one subject, and more like 1/10 of the week goes to the other subject, unless standardized tests hijack my week, as often happens. I don’t write these subject matter tests, but I am required to give them just as all teachers are required to give these identical tests — whether they teach regular, bilingual or special education classes. (I spend a fair amount of time buoying up one frazzled special education teacher whose students have had a pretty confusing year.)

Eduhonesty: Estimated time lost to PARCC, including time spent discussing PARCC in meetings, over the last four school days: Seven hours or slightly more than one full day’s instruction. This includes time spent reading the PARCC manual since that time was taken away from grading and planning instruction. This does not include time I had intended to spend going over PARCC with students yesterday, since internet problems forced me to deviate from my plan. Otherwise, the total would be more like ten hours.

Tomorrow we finally start the test. Stay tuned for the gory details, the ones I am allowed to disclose. I signed away any right to reveal top-secret test details. Student reactions to PARCC’s questions matter more than the nuts-and-bolts questions in any case. Let’s see how my guys manage.