Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Test No One Is Taking

These past two weeks, my two younger sisters (seventh grade and freshman) both skipped numerous days of school. They weren't sick, they didn't have doctors appointments, they didn't go on vacation... they simply did not go because both their schools were administrating the PARCC testing.

A photo of students taking the PARCC test, which is administrated online in 75% of the schools.

The PARCC testing, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is the new test that replaces the ISAT and the Prairie State Achievement Examination. Before the PARCC testing, when the ISAT was still the standardize test of choice, everyone showed up for the test. Many students even loved ISAT week because the ISATs were not that difficult of a test and of course, no homework! But now, many people are opting out of taking this test. My mom said the superintendent at Winnetka schools even sent out an email explaining that if a student is too stressed out to take the exam, they could opt out of it. While schools can not reveal the amount of students who actually took this "mandatory" exam yet, many sources are saying the attendance is extremely lacking. Ellie, my seventh grade sister, said around half the students in her class are not taking it. An attendance record of fifty percent will not suffice for the success of this exam.

In other words, the lack of attendance will severely impact our state's education. The state could potentially lose funding, and we learned in class that state funding is crucial for schools (especially lower-income schools). Needless to say, New Trier and the Winnetka Public Schools will lose funding due to their failure to reach 95%.

I understand that standardized tests play a significant role in America's education, for they allow state's to measure the education students are receiving and show if a given school's methods of educating are sufficient. However, I think students are making a good choice in boycotting this exam. This test takes a total of thirteen hours to take and is shown to be far too difficult for the grade level the student is at. I was talking to some freshmen English teachers at the Northfield Campus, who took the test prior to the students, and they said some questions they even struggled with... and they majored in English in college! Additionally, this tests is mainly administrated online, which creates many technical difficulties and would be a challenge for students in low-income areas who do not have access to the superb technology we have at New Trier. Overall, the test is flawed and is not the best way to deal with education in America. 

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