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PARCC Gives Update for Common Core Online Assessment Field Testing

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has provided new details regarding its field testing plans. The schedule came out of a quarterly board meeting, which met on June 26. PARCC is one of two state consortia developing online assessments for use by states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards; the other is Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia currently make up PARCC.

Earlier this year PARCC tested assessment items and questions with 2,300 students in six states. The organization said trials would take place this summer with an additional 4,800 students in four states. The goal of that testing is to gauge the quality of the exam items and their accessibility.

PARCC said it would run a much broader field test in spring 2014, encompassing a million students across member states. The objective for this effort, PARCC said in a statement, is to "ensure items are accurately measuring the knowledge and skills tested and that the questions provide a valid and reliable result of what students know and can do." It will also give districts and schools a chance to try out the administration aspects of the assessments, which are expected to go live in the 2014-2015 school year.

This initiative is comparable to what Smarter Balanced did this year from February through May with its scientific pilot. In that effort, the American Institutes for Research, the organization that ran the pilot, delivered the Smarter Balanced assessments to between 500,000 and a million students across its 25 states.

PARCC said it would identify a representative sampling of students for the field test this summer, and schools would be notified of their selection in August. The field test would also include a sample of classrooms to participate from each school. According to PARCC, the students identified for the field tests would take only about a quarter of the assessment, and nobody would take the full test. The sample size for each state will be proportional to its student enrollment.

In spring 2014, the organization will make available a free, online practice test for interested schools. This assessment will be delivered on the same testing platform that will be used for field testing, to allow participants to become familiar with the types of items that will appear on the live versions of the assessments.

During the same board meeting, PARCC approved the first edition of an accessibility and accommodations manual, which will guide testing for students with disabilities and English learners. The consortium also expects to release cost estimates this summer for summative assessments.

The next board meeting will take place Sept. 25 in the Washington, D.C. area.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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