What Will PARCC Results Look Like? New Jersey Gives Preview

Adam Clark | The Star-Ledger
02/05/15

TRENTON — New Jersey on Wednesday unveiled a first look at the reports parents and teachers will see after students take the upcoming Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams.

In a presentation before the Board of Education, state officials compared information on the new reports to the reports from prior state standardized tests. The PARCC results, which will be printed in color and mailed directly to families, will help parents and teachers better analyze student learning , Assistant Education Commissioner Bari Erlichson said.

The previous tests, The New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge and the High School Proficiency Assessment, gave parents and teachers a student's individual score compared to an average score.

Aside from that, the other information centered on where the student landed among three groups: Advanced, which meant the student rarely was in need of instructional intervention; proficient, which meant that student was typically not in need of intervention; and partially proficient, which meant that student was most likely in need of intervention.

"Let's just start with a flat admission that NJ ASK and HSPA were not assessments that informed student learning," Erlichson said.

Because the PARCC tests, administered in grades 3-11, are longer than their predecessors they allow the state to reliably test a full range of skills each year, something NJ ASK and HSPA did only partially, Erlichson said.

View full sizeA sample page of the report parents will see after their children take The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams. (New Jersey Department of Education)

Parents will now be able to see an explanation of the skills being tested and how their child compared to the school average, state average, district average and PARCC average — a comparison to students in other states taking the same test. Beginning in 2016, the report will also show how much academic growth the student made and how it compares to students in their state and in the PARCC consortium.

For example, the report could say "This student demonstrated larger growth than 31 percent of New Jersey students with similar past performance taking this assessment."

Along with the more detailed reports for parents, teachers for the first time will have access to a database showing the specific skill students were tested on in each question and how many of their students answered the question correctly, Erlichson said.

Unlike the prior assessments, PARCC has questions intentionally designed to be harder than grade level or easier than grade level to better gauge how far ahead the highest achieving students are and how far behind the lowest achieving students are. That information, combined with teachers seeing which questions their class performed well or poorly on, can help teachers better adjust their instruction, Erlichson said.

The customized student database will also give teachers an overview of where each student stands.

"In a very quick nutshell you can identify that, for instance, Kevin is below strong command in modeling applications," Erlichson.

The results should shift conversations to deeper levels, like how parents and teachers can work together to improve a child's skills, Assistant Commissioner Kimberley Harrington said.

View full sizeAn example of the database school districts can access to compare results on the PARCC exams. (New Jersey Department of Education)

Districts will also be able to compare their overall performance to other districts and other states using the database.

PARCC results are expected to be available in October since the grading scale for the new computerized test is not yet set. In subsequent years, the results will be available at the end of the school year they are given, Erlichson said.

The department stressed that the data collected on student demographics and performance will not be sent to the federal government at the individual student level. The data also cannot be sold by PARCC or anyone else, as some parents have feared, because that is specifically forbidden in all of New Jersey's contracts, Erlichson said 

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