Marina Ford is a high-achieving sophomore attending Pinelands Regional High School in Tuckerton, N.J. All of her classes are either honors or Advanced Placement. Her favorite subject is English, and she loves to read and write. She ordinarily scores above average on standardized tests — and always does especially well on the English section. The 16-year-old says that she loves English because it “gives me the freedom to explain myself and my point of view on a subject.” Her dream: “becoming a lawyer and going to a college I am proud of.” Marina recently took the PARCC — the new Common Core test being given in a number of states this spring — and she was so upset with the experience that she decided to write about it in a comment on the Web site of Save Our Schools New Jersey. I am republishing this with permission.
PARCC is a reference to the Common Core test created by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, one of two multi-state consortia given $360 million in federal funds to design new standardized tests that align with the Common Core State Standards and are supposed to be used to hold students, schools and teachers “accountable.” PARCC testing is under way in New Jersey and several other states. Controversy over the new Common Core exams has sparked a growing opt-out movement among parents, thousands of whom are refusing to allow their children to take the tests in states across the country. The PARCC consortium once had 26 member states, but after numerous defections there are now fewer than a dozen states committed to using the PARCC exam this year. The Arkansas House on Friday approved a measure to drop the PARCC.
Here is Marina Ford’s report on taking the PARCC:
I am in 10th grade and in all AP and honors classes. I’ve been taking the PARCC because I was informed that it will help me on future tests such as the SATS and there was a rumor going around that you needed to pass the PARCC in order to graduate. I was completely and utterly misinformed.
First of all, I am missing valuable weeks of preparing for my AP tests for a test that does not even remotely have purpose. I’ve been taking this exam on a Chrome book, which might I add are severely small and very difficult to type on. For the essays at the end of each test, I can not even use tab to indent my paragraphs yet an administrator in my school said that five-paragraph essays were expected.
There were some major difficulties logging in and when it came to the actual test. I discovered that the questions were very vague and unclear. For example, it wanted me to click a sentence that best summarized Paragraph 14. I looked at the excerpt given to me and there were only 13 paragraphs. I assumed it wanted me to go back to a previous piece I read to answer that question.
Next, I know for certain that there are at least three different versions of this English test. I got three reading excerpts (which were obnoxiously long and easily lost my attention) while some of my friends got only two reading excerpts and a three-minute video to answer questions on. Not to mention that the questions, if you can even understand them, have a few answers that may apply based on interpretation.
I have been misinformed, and my self-confidence has been lowered as a result of this test, as I can not even remotely answer some of the questions.
Also, my school has a block schedule so for the classes I actually can attend, there’s only half a class present so the teacher doesn’t start a new lesson. I can’t even fathom what the Algebra 2 test will be like.
For starters, I’m only a little over halfway through my Algebra 2 course, yet I am expected to take a PARCC on it? We took the Algebra 2 PARCC pretest in class. I am ranked at [the top of] my class and I couldn’t answer one question on this pretest.
These PARCC exams have done nothing but mess with my valuable class time and significantly lower my confidence in my competence as a student. A large majority of my classmates are not taking this exam seriously because it honestly feels like a joke.
Also to the students who opted out in my school, they were lectured by the teacher and told to remain in the classroom for the full 90 minutes.
They were only allowed a book or a pencil and paper or were told to “just rest your head” or “take a nap.” People don’t send their children to school to rest their heads or to take naps. They send them to learn.
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