MSDE is proudly preparing for the first year of full-scale PARCC assessments. The resource for teachers entitledTop 5 Things You Need to Know about Testing in High Schoolstates, “For the 2014-15 school year, Maryland’s PARCC assessments will include Algebra I, Algebra II, and English 10. Geometry, English 9, and English 11 will come later.” Maryland teachers have been made aware of English 10 as a graduation requirement and English 11 as an indication of college and career readiness. However, information regarding the advent of an English 9 PARCC Exam has not yet been disseminated.
Moreover, “Maryland is a Governing State in the PARCC Consortium” with participation by Lillian Lowery, State Superintendent of Schools; Henry Johnson, Assistant State Superintendent; Janet Bagsby, Chief of the Planning Branch of the Division of Accountability, Assessment and Data Systems at the MSDE serving as the K-12 Leads for PARCC in Maryland. English 10 and Algebra I are being tested this year.Tooten reports that Johnson is enthused about the implementation of the exams: “We do feel that our teachers and students are ready to move forward with this assessment. We are very excited in the fact that almost 75 percent of our schools and students will be testing online.”
However, various glitches with online administration further complicate testing. In Baltimore County,PARCCandMAPstesting are now being given twice annually in elementary and middle schools. In regard to MAPs, an elementary reading specialist expressed concerns regarding a lack of consistency in question formatting and tasks that are extremely challenging for elementary students to complete online; a middle school administrator shared her frustration that computer and system glitches required the monopoly of the school’s technology for weeks longer than anticipated.
In Baltimore County elementary schools, kindergarten students take readiness tests during the first two months of the school year.DIBELS assessments are also being utilizedto measure early literacy skills though the results are being handled differently this year. Previously, reading specialists would pull out small groups of students who were falling in the red zone in DIBELS to employ an intervention system like Fundations. Now, many principals prefer that specialists “push-in” to employ Response to Intervention (RTI) in language arts classrooms using the countywideWonderscurriculum. These decisions remain at the discretion of principals.
TheMSAsare still being administered for science and government in eighth grade and in high school. Moreover, College Board’sReadistep andPSATare also being administered from eighth through eleventh grades.
Although the push for data collection via assessments is rampant and these exams are being used to create school progress plans and evaluate teachers, MAPs and PSATs are not providing schools with functional targeted data. Schools cannot access longitudinal data, data for subgroups (e.g. FARMS or special education), or specific areas of growth or need (except by individual student). Overall, growth or lack thereof also must be examined individually student by student, which is too time consuming to be effective.