The Common Core is to be field tested this spring as tens of thousands of students are slated to log on to computers to take practice versions of a new standardized test meant to gauge their performance.
Forty-five states and the District have adopted the Common Core standards, which are designed to promote critical thinking instead of rote memorization. Next year, those states will begin administering new exams that will be used to judge schools and, in many jurisdictions, teachers and principals
The field tests — which will be administered to millions of students across the country, including to Maryland children next week and D.C. children next month — are meant to help fine-tune the online exams before they go live next year. The tests usher in a major shift that will require many school systems to upgrade their technology and their methods of instruction.
New Approach to the Standardized Test
“This is a total reset of how we do assessment,” said John White, chief of staff for the Maryland State Department of Education. “Rather than just test whether kids know and can regurgitate facts, there’s an opportunity to make sure kids can think and communicate.”
Maryland and the District are part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, one of two groupings of states that have developed new exams with the help of $350 million from the federal government.
PARCC is giving its field test to more than 1 million students in the District and 14 states, including Maryland.
Approximately 65,000 Maryland students will participate in the field test, including at least one classroom in nearly every school in the state. Maryland received permission from the federal government for participating students to skip the state’s usual standardized test when it was administered earlier this year.
“We don’t want to double-test kids,” said William Reinhard, a spokesman for the state education department. “That was our goal.”
In the District, about 5,000 students in 135 schools will take the PARCC field test. That number will include students at charter and traditional schools. But District students taking the PARCC field test will still have to take the annual city test, the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System, which plays a big role in the evaluation of teachers and schools.
Student scores on the PARCC field tests will not be shared with students, families, schools or states. Instead, PARCC officials will use the results to see how the technology functions and to examine the responses to test questions.
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