Second Part of the New PARCC Exam Begins This Week

Students will take the End-of-Year portion of the PARCC assessment through late May

SPRINGFIELD, IL — The testing window for the second portion of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment starts this week, concluding Illinois’ inaugural administration of this new state-of-the-art exam focused on real-world application and college and career readiness.

“We are pleased with how the Performance-Based Assessment portion of the PARCC exam went, with districts providing positive feedback and working well with us to address the few glitches that arose during the first testing session,” State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch said. “This is a huge accomplishment for such a massive, system-wide change. We expect the End-of-Year exam to run even more smoothly as educators and students become increasingly comfortable with this new and more engaging way of testing.”

The PARCC assessment is divided into two parts that measure different kinds of knowledge and skills. Illinois students are now taking the second part, the End-of-Year (EOY) exam, with most expected to complete the exam through late May. The EOY consists of computer-based, multiple choice questions and is given when about 90 percent of instruction is complete. State schools administered the first part of the PARCC exam, the Performance-Based Assessment (PBA), from March through early April. The PBA is longer than the EOY and is given when about 75 percent of instruction was completed and includes more extended tasks and writing exercises.

The PBA and EOY are two parts of the same test, which together require students to demonstrate critical thinking, reasoning and writing skills. The PBA and EOY will result in one score that will help educators and parents know how well each student is meeting the new and more rigorous Illinois Learning Standards in English language arts and math and their emphasis on mastering concepts and applying knowledge.

“After months of preparation and with a successful PBA administration under their belt, our teachers are comfortable with the online test administration. More importantly, our students find it more engaging and relevant to the type of problems and discussions they experience in the classroom,” said Superintendent Tim Farquer of Williamsfield Community Unit School District 210. “We feel confident going into the End-of-Year portion of the exam that testing will continue to go smoothly. But most of all, we look forward to sharing more in-depth and useful information with our families about where their children stand on the path to success after high school.”

More than 1.4 million PBA sessions were completed in Illinois, and more than 75 percent of the state’s eligible students are expected to take the PARCC assessment online.

To prepare schools for administering the EOY portion online, the Illinois State Board of Education has ensured that all students have been properly assigned to the appropriate EOY test sessions in their districts with the most current accommodations and accessibility features available.

The PARCC summative assessment measures whether or not students can demonstrate that they’ve met grade level standards in English language arts and math as the year comes to a close and if they can be deemed proficient in those content areas.

Earlier this year, Illinois community college presidents agreed to use PARCC assessment results to determine a student’s readiness for college-level courses. This means students who earn certain scores can be placed directly into classes that earn credit toward their college degree without spending extra time and money on other placement exams or remedial courses.

Students taking the EOY will be asked to take a short survey at the completion of both the math and ELA second portion of the assessment to learn more about the testing experience, particularly in terms of technology, and make any necessary improvements for next year.

In late fall, families will have access to reports on the initial PARCC assessment results about student performance on each portion of the assessment. This year’s results are expected to take additional time to produce than previous state tests or future PARCC results because classroom teachers and higher education content experts from each state, including Illinois, must review the first year of student scores. These experts will then establish the appropriate score range used to set performance levels on a scale of one to five. These performance levels will show how well students are meeting grade level expectations and, ultimately, if they’re on track to meet “college and career ready,” standards. In subsequent years, those results will be available in a timelier manner to direct intervention and support as needed.

Text Box: PARCC Video ResourceReal Learning for Real Life, a group of Illinois education organizations, has put together a video explaining the PARCC assessment and the valuable information it will provide about student progress. You can watch the short video here.