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Student Offers Perspective on the PARCC, Says It's Not So Bad

Isabelle Clinton is a student blogger and junior at Sante Fe High School in New Mexico. She partook in the first year of the state's PARCC exams and has offered Education World her perspective on what standardized testing really is like for the students who take required tests.

EW: What were some of the main issues students had with the PARCC—specifically, the students who originally walked out in protest of the exam leading up to actual testing that you mentioned in your article

Clinton: A petition was started against PARCC. The opening line reads “Students are overwhelmed with tests throughout their education, and the new implement of the PARCC testing is unfair.” The timing of the PARCC test was not ideal. It came right before finals, and AP exams. For some, it also came during SATs and ACTs. Many of the common opinions heard on campus were that only the 3rd graders should be introduced to the test, because the other grade levels were already used to taking the SBA [Smarter Balanced Assessment]. People felt that the test would not accurately represent their knowledge, and that teachers should not be evaluated based on student’s score.

EW: Did you or anyone you know have any problem taking the test online, such as a technical difficulty?

Clinton: My mom works as a teacher at the Pecos Public School District, and she certainly had a lot of difficulties getting the technology to work. In my English Class at Santa Fe High School there were maybe three people who had difficulty with logging in. One of my close friends had numerous difficulties and had to go in to do the tests later on.

EW: Did you find it easy to adjust to continuing classes after PARCC testing, which wasn't the case with the SBA?

Clinton: The PARCC was confined to the time first period takes. I was in my next class on time in most cases. It was easy to adjust to continuing classes, because it did not take up large amounts of time to complete.

EW: What was the general feeling demonstrated by your teachers towards the PARCC?

Clinton: The teachers that I had expressed the opinion that the protests were pointless. Pearson is at the heart of the problem, but the protests targeted the Santa Fe public school district. Most teachers told the students to simply take the test and do there best. The school had threatened that students who did not take the PARCC would not graduate with a diploma, and this was a main argument by teachers to tell students why they should just do the test.

EW: You said going back to taking the SBA is less appealing than taking the PARCC, would you mind elaborating on why?

Clinton: I remember counting down the days until the SBA. Students were advised to buy chocolate and gum, and eat blueberries and hard boiled eggs for breakfast. Once students got to school, breakfast was provided by the cafeteria. With the SBA, after the test was taken students got to take the rest of the day off. There was never homework, and teachers did not teach in any of the classes. In summary, the SBA was a much bigger deal than the PARCC, and it took up way more class time. People protested against the PARCC because it took away from school, but in reality it saves time that the SBA took away.

EW: Overall, how was the second, shorter round? Do you still have the same feelings on the PARCC after taking the next round?

Clinton: The second, shorter round was even less painless than the first round. I hold the same opinion about the PARCC test that I did before. One of the questions on the PARCC test was about how we felt about the test overall.

The only things I dislike about the test is that it is so dependent on technology (which some Santa Fe Public schools lack, and when technology is available it often fails), that the questions are structured in such a way that if you get one question wrong you get the next question on that page wrong as well, and I do wish tests were not used as an evaluation of students and teachers. In the next round of testing, next year, passing the test will be required for graduation, which I also disagree with.

By Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

05/20/2015

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