PARCCPress release from Fair Haven School District

Based on the core belief that assessment should work as a tool for enhancing teaching and learning, PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) assessments will be administered to Fair Haven students in third through eighth grade in March and May of 2015 — and this past November 12, parents of Fair Haven students received a wealth of information about the program during the “PARCC Parent Presentation.”

Focusing on the newer, more rigorous “Common Core Standards” which have been adopted by New Jersey and 46 other states, PARCC assessments are designed to gauge how students are progressing in school and whether they are on track for postsecondary success. The assessments, which cover the areas of Mathematics and English Language Arts, will also provide teachers with the ability to identify students who may be falling behind, therefore requiring extra help.

Held at Knollwood School and hosted by Kathy Elgrim, the district’s Supervisor of Instructional Programs and Support, the evening focused on three main topics:

• What PARCC assessments are, and what they are designed to accomplish

• Steps being taken at both Viola L. Sickles and Knollwood Schools to prepare all students

• How the assessments, taken on individual laptops using Google technology, will appear to students

In addition to aligning the curriculum – including Math and Literacy Programs – to Common Core standards, the Fair Haven School District is preparing students for the PARCC exams by:

• Teaching PARCC technology skills to students in grades three through eight

• Teaching keyboarding skills to students in first through fifth grades

• Providing small computer-based assessments to first and second graders

• Addressing Common Core Standards in Kindergarten classes, and providing Kindergarten students with access to Ipads and Google Chromebooks

Elgrim noted that seventh graders at Knollwood School were selected to take the PARCC Math Assessment as part of a “field test” during the 2013-14 school year, and are therefore somewhat familiar with the process. But she stressed that all students in all grades are being thoroughly prepared for the assessments and will be receiving hands-on exposure through the use of laptops with Google technology.

Elgrim also outlined some of the benefits PARCC assessments offer when compared with the more recently utilized NJ ASK, including a larger number of shorter testing sessions (less taxing on students), extended testing time for all students who require it (50% for all students, 75% for special needs/classified students), and the potential for school districts and parents to receive data more quickly (once standards for comparison are established). The data received will allow for comparisons among students and sections, and also between grades and among schools.

NJ ASK will continue to be utilized for student assessments in the subject of science. The NJ ASK science assessments will be administered to students in fourth and eighth grade in May 2015.

“PARCC Parent Presentation” was the second in a series of events planned during the school year by the Fair Haven Family Institute. Upcoming presentations include “Google for Education” which will take place on December 2 at 7 pm at Knollwood School.

Additional information on PARCC assessments, including details provided at the PARCC Parent Presentation, can be found on the Fair Haven School District web site (fairhaven.edu) under PARCC.