March 2 is Dr. Seuss’s birthday, or, rather, the day 111 years ago when Theodor Seuss Geisel, the famous children’s author, was born, and for years, thousands of schools around the country have celebrated the day with book readings (“Cat in the Hat, “Green Eggs and Ham,” etc.) and Seuss character costumes. This year, some of those celebrations have been changed. Why? It’s the start of the spring 2015 testing season, and at many schools students will be taking PARCC Core standardized tests instead.
For the last 18 years, Dr. Seuss’s birthday has been the occasion for the annual “Read Across America Day,” an event sponsored by the National Education Association in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Millions of students traditionally participate as their schools host Seuss readings in what is billed by the NEA as the “nation’s largest reading observance.”
Many students and schools will still participate on Monday, but not as many as usual. Monday is the first day that schools can give some of the new Common Core tests, and many students will be taking the PARCC (the exam created by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) instead of sitting down for a Seuss reading.
For example, in Illinois, North Elementary School in Sycamore held a “Cat in the Hat” celebration last week. According to the Daily Chronicle:
Reading specialist Amy Gehant and reading paraprofessional Elisa Rubeck organize the event annually as a way to mark Read Across America, which falls on Seuss’ birthday, which is Monday. This year they held the celebration early because of state-mandated testing taking place next week.
The same was true for schools in New Jersey and other states where the PARCC is starting on Monday — at least at those schools that were not closed or delayed because of bad weather.
PARCC is one of two new tests created by two multi-state consortia with some $360 million in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education to design new accountability tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards. PARCC, one of the two consortia, had 26 states in 2010 but now fewer than a dozen states and the District of Columbia are taking the PARCC test this year.
The other consortium is the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and its exam window starts in mid-March. About 20 states are in the SBAC consortium and will use the SBAC test.
In New Mexico, school officials found a way to use Dr. Seuss as a way to get kids “excited” about taking the PARCC, starting on Tuesday. Here’s the note about the event on Monday (note the misspelling in the headline):
Dr. Suess Birthday Celebration March 2, 2015
In celebration of Dr. Seuss Birthday, Rio Gallinas Charter School will be having a Rock the PARCC Test with Dr. Seuss on Monday March 2nd beginning at 1PM at the Old Town Mission Community Center located at 1413 Chavez St. During this Rock the PARCC test, Director Gerald Garcia will read Dr. Seuss’s famous book Green Eggs and Ham. Students will get to enjoy a green eggs and ham snack during the celebration. Middle School music elective students led by instructor Kevin Zoernig and accompanied by Director Gerald Garcia will be performing the smash hit “We Will Rock You” with their spin off version concerning testing. Special guest to appear will be The Cat In The Hat. Reminder: it is important that during the testing period students get their rest and they report to school on time. PARCC testing begins on Tuesday March 3rd through March 20th.