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Boards upset over PARCC testing

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An aspiring lawyer takes a 12-hour state bar exam to determine his or her suitability for being a lawyer. But a third grader in the Evanston/Skokie District 65 school system is expected to sit for 13 hours to take a state assessment exam. And that’s driving the school boards nuts.

The exam in question is the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, more commonly known as PARCC. It’s been adopted by the State of Illinois as the primary assessment vehicle for the state’s schools and is mandated to be given to students from the third grade all the way through high school.

At Evanston Township High School, it requires adjusting the school calendar to eliminate five days of instruction time to implement the test, which is good for neither college acceptance nor class placement, according to Peter Bavis, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

In addition, the school administers the ACT test, which many colleges require for acceptance.

Bavis appeared before the joint meeting of Evanston’s two school boards last week to vent his frustration at having to administer PARCC, which he contends is worthless for both college readiness and placement.

“It’s incredibly disruptive to instruction,” he declared.

While he garnered a fair amount of sympathy from members of both the Evanston/Skokie District 65 board and the ETHS District 202 board, members were in a quandary about what to do about it, short of calling for a legislative remedy.

After all, a year ago there were some 23 states committed to administering the test, but one by one, they have pulled out until now only 11 states are administering PARCC, according to Bavis.

“We have been told that the state is bound by federal regulations,” Bavis said, “but this does not explain how other states were able to opt out of PARCC.  This issue deserves more than a bureaucratic shrug of the shoulders.”

There was a suggestion that if enough pressure is exerted upon state legislators, they might possibly delay implementation for a year or so while they consider less disrupting alternatives.

 

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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