Springtime Studying

The Juniors of LHS have a change in testing this year to prepare for.

Olivia Griffith, Staff Writer

With the ACT being moved up to early March and PARCC testing taking up almost every week after, the state will have juniors buried in prep books studying this spring.

Because the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing gives certain windows for students to take it, the state of Illinois decided to administer the ACT at an earlier time than usual. It will take place on March 3 (versus the prior ACT date of April 12) this coming spring.

As for PARCC testing, there are two windows in the spring of 2015 for juniors taking Algebra 2 or level 3 of English (junior-level English at all curricular levels). The first window goes from March 9-April 3 (the P.B.A. or Performance Based Assessments). April 27-May 22 is the second window (E.O.Y. or End Of Year testing) .

“Our students will be taking exams during both testing windows; 5 total tests overall. Within that window, our district will be designating certain testing days when our students will be taking certain tests,” reported Assisstant Principal Ray Albin.

Eventually it is said that grades K-11 will participate in PARCC tests. However, because it is new and still in the process of stabilizing itself as an official and countrywide test, it is only being issued to grade 11 this year so teachers and students alike can see what it’s like and begin to understand how it works.

“They’re good tests. They ask higher-level thinking questions, much higher than the ACT or SAT has ever asked before, ” disclosed Mr. Albin.

His belief is that the purpose of PARCC is excellent; however, the way they’re executing the opening of the new tests needs some organization. “PARCC has been way behind in their communication, they’ve been way behind in their examples. I believe that they have their testing platform, [but it is] adequate for the testing,” he said. Even Mr.  Albin doesn’t know exactly what to expect from the coming tests.

American Lit and Freshman Lit Honors teacher Mr. Matt Tooley agrees with many of the views of Mr. Albin. “I think it’s a better test for estimating students’ reading skills, critical thinking skills, and so forth,” he said.

Both adults agree that the tests have potential, both to prosper and to fail. By making the tests computer-based, grading and the general testing process are simplified. However, glitches and technological failures in the system may label the test as hurting more than it helps.

With the coming of this new form of state testing, the Prairie State Achievement Examination tests are no longer the standard Illinois-issued tests. Instead, they have been removed in favor of new testing methods, including PARCC. Because PARCC is a direct competitor of the ACT, the ACT is creating a series of tests  just like PARCC has a series of tests. Except for a few small changes, the ACT hasn’t done much in the terms of long-term change. However, many (including Mr. Albin) believe change is to be expected from them. The SAT has already announced their shift to become, from what is known, more PARCC-like and a little more ACT-like.

More information regarding the tests will be revealed through the  PARCC and ACT agencies within the next couple months.