PARCC Unveils Pricing, Stresses Benefits of New Online Tests

PARCC, (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) one of the two big state testing consortia, said its tests will cost $29.50–and that just happens to be the median price the 21 members states currently pay for end of year tests. That doesn’t sound like much of a bargain but the price covers a mid-spring performance assessment and an end of year test.

Benefits of the new tests compared to most current state tests include more writing, receiving results before the end of the school year, and better accommodations for English learners and students with disabilities. The new tests will “provide meaningful data for all students, including high- and low-performing students, while current tests tend to focus on those hovering around the middle.”

Another benefit is improved tracking of college and career readiness. High school tests should allow students to place directly into credit-bearing college courses without the need for remediation upon graduation.
The online tests should also improve test security (no more eraser scandals!). They are likely to get cheaper over time while quality and accommodations will continue to improve.

PARCC will release a significant number of items compared to the often mysterious current tests. Innovative computer based tests will replace bubble sheets.  States will get a better test than they could develop/administer on their own and they will get comparable results.

The performance-based test will be given in early spring “and will capture critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that generally aren’t measured well on current tests.” The math portion will focus on reasoning and modeling real-world problems while the  ELA requires students to write short essays based on readings.

The end of year test will ask students to further demonstrate understanding of key concepts in math and will check reading comprehension.

PARCC released a planning tool for states to help them determine what they need to do to get ready to administer the new tests.

The price may be a little higher than some had hoped, but PARCC argues that with an average spend of more than $10k per pupil, $30 for a good test is cheap.

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Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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