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New testing arrives; varied reactions ensue

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New testing arrives; varied reactions ensue

By Stephanie Rountree

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While student opinions of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test vary, proctors agree that the administration has suffered few glitches.

“It went as expected,” proctor and English chairman Jason Bowman said. “It wasn’t chaos. It was organized. The students were great. They dealt with it; they worked hard.”

Among the most common glitches: a few students were unable to log in despite repeated attempts. Technology liaison Amanda Lattimore was summoned and the students were led to alternative computers elsewhere, proctors said.

PARCC testing, which replaces the algebra and English HSA, began March 3 – delayed because of a snow day – and will run through March 27. Two more snow days in Week 1 are no problem because make-ups were embedded in the schedule, assistant principal Robert Murray said.

“It’s inconvenient but not difficult,” he said of shuffling students through designated computer labs.

Sophomores taking the English PARCC this month receive passes to the library or room 203 or room 305 and spend a morning on the first parts of the test. They return for a writing portion that lasts about an hour on a subsequent day.

Students sharing frustrations have cited small on-screen boxes provided for narrative or essay writing sections. Concerns about the multiple-choice portion of the test – whether connected to literature, nonfiction or recorded material – have also surfaced.

 

I feel like nobody knows what’s going to happen next. We’re jumping in blindfolded with both feet.”

— Technology liaison Amanda Lattimore

“I liked it, but at the same time I hated it, because if you make one mistake you get three questions wrong,” sophomore Hannah Bostwick said, referring to questions related to an earlier inference.

PARCC has presented a few technological obstacles during testing. Sophomore Abby Shimanek’s test didn’t produce colors needed to view highlighted words, forcing her to look over a classmate’s shoulder for information. A handful of students couldn’t hear a recording they had to answer questions about.

In addition to Murray’s efforts at scheduling, PARCC testing required days of preparation by Lattimore and her technology staff. It wasn’t simple.

“Two weeks ago this Friday the whole county was having issues and Internet Explorer was crashing everywhere,” Lattimore said after the first morning of testing. “We couldn’t even run the testing for it, so everything so got pushed to last week.”

Lattimore also expressed the need to rethink the timing of this computerized debut. “I feel like nobody knows what’s going to happen next,” she said. “We’re jumping in blindfolded with both feet.”

While proctors found that Gifted and Talented students finished sections within 30 minutes, they expressed concern about other students’ reaction to the new test.

“It will be tough for non GT students,” proctor Alicia Drechsler said, citing long, difficult passages as factors. “They won’t want to write two essays either.”

Students not taking PARCC have also been affected. Creative writing teacher Meekah Hopkins’ intro class will remain without their computer lab for the month. Though the class uses laptop carts in a regular classroom, the computers’ unreliable service and inability to print are detrimental to her students, she said.

“It’s a shame; 2A isn’t getting the same experience the other two classes are getting this month.”

But testing continues. Senior HSAs start after spring break, followed by end-of year PARCC May 4-15 and more HSAs May 18 through June 4, Murray said, adding that he hopes to avoid using all test dates scheduled.

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