State-Mandated PARCC Tests Provoke Stress, Confusion

Scheduling exams proves difficult; teaching for them, taking them befuddles


Audie Lorenzo

Students took the PARCC exams at testing booths set up in the library.

Over the past four weeks the state-mandated PARCC tests have started for the freshman. They have had to take the science, language arts and math tests.

According to the high school’s testing coordinator, Karen Slovikovski, scheduling the test was fairly difficult.

“Several factors make these schedules challenging: the sheer number of tests in a relatively short timeframe, the different formats (both paper and pencil and online), the varying lengths of each assessment,” Slovikovski wrote in an email. “To balance the amount of time missed from each class period, a separate schedule needs to be made for each test.”

It has been challenging to maintain a good testing environment while allowing classes to continue as scheduled for students not taking tests.

To create a testing schedule that worked, Slovikovski collaborated with Dale Whittington, director of research and accountability; Michael Griffith, the high school principal; and Melda Graves, a former Guidance Department secretary who now assists with testing. Slovikovski also noted the help teachers, technology  staff, proctors, custodians, office staff and cafeteria staff provided.

“There are so many details that different people help address,” said Slovikovski. “While these details may be a bit different because these tests are new, there have always been challenges with each test administration in the past.  Some are just easier to handle than others.”

Slovikovski works long hours and even comes in on the weekends and days school is off to help make the tests possible.

Freshman Margaret Bartimole said the tests seemed easy when she took them, but looking back she said they were confusing. “The questions seemed extremely broad, and anything could have been an OK answer,” she said.

Students are not the only ones who need to know the test.

“Teachers need to learn about the content of the tests, the structure of the tests, new security policies, and testing procedures, all while preparing lessons for their classes,” Slovikovski said.

Rebekah Wadsworth, who teaches ninth-grade math,  changed her curriculum so the students could succeed.

“I worked with other teachers to adjust our curriculum so that we would hit the objectives we needed to cover in time for the tests,” said Wadsworth. “We spent a lot of time reading and rereading the standards and trying to piece together exactly what our students would need to know and when.”

Wadsworth took her class to the computer lab for two or three days to take practice tests, and familiarize her students with the technology.

“Many important answers regarding the PARCC tests are still question marks,” said Wadsworth. “Since we don’t know what to expect from the PARCC, it is difficult to know how to prepare.”

Comment using your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail account