The Common Core-aligned tests that made their debut in 11 states and the District this spring will be approximately 90 minutes shorter next year, a change that comes after parents, teachers and school administrators expressed frustration with the amount of time devoted to the new exams.
The governing board of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) voted Wednesday to shorten the tests. The board, made up of state superintendents, also voted to give the exams during one 30-day testing window near the end of the school year.
This year, the tests were split between two time periods, one in early spring and one in late spring. Many teachers and parents said that testing twice was more disruptive to children’s regular classroom instruction.
PARCC officials said the changes won’t affect the ability to measure student achievement.
“Next year’s PARCC tests will take less time away from lessons, and cause less disruption to school schedules, while still keeping students on track for college and careers,” Lillian M. Lowery, Maryland’s state superintendent of schools, said in a statement.
Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, said he expects to see more such moves to reduce testing time. “It’s the type of thing we need to be doing to respond to the environment we’re in right now,” Minnich said. “We’ve got to be better at making sure the amount of time we’re spending on testing is the right amount.”
PARCC is one of two groups of states that received funding from the Obama administration to create new assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The common tests are meant, in part, to make it easier to compare student achievement across states.
But PARCC’s membership has dwindled since 2010, when 26 states were aligned with the consortium. This spring, there was a wave of protest in some of the remaining PARCC states when a growing number of parents refused to allow their children to take the exams.
The PARCC tests are given to students in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. The length of the tests varies by grade level. For third-grade students, testing times should drop from 9.75 hours this year to 8.25 hours next year, according to PARCC officials. High school students’ testing time should drop from 11.1 hours to 9.7 hours.
PARCC officials said the changes are based on feedback from teachers and school districts. Many others nationwide, including President Obama, also have called on states and schools to reduce the amount of time spent on standardized testing.
“This is very much driven by what the states have been hearing from their schools and districts,” PARCC spokesman David Connerty-Marin said. “The test still measures far more than other tests, so there is plenty of material to maintain the reliability of results.”
Lyndsey Layton contributed to this report.