In light of the PARCC scores being released, New Jersey officials have just recently mandated PARCC testing to become a requirement for graduation. Although in comparison to other past standardized tests, many students have fallen short. Regardless of this information, the use of PARCC testing in schools continues to thrive. Gonser in her article discusses how a school in Newark, Roberto Clemente Elementary School has slipped to the eighth percentile due to only 24% of the class meeting grade level expectations of the PARCC exam. While the statistics itself might seem troubling, it is important to keep in mind that many of the students from this particular school speak English as a second language.
Gosner goes on to argue that the importance of understanding how to teach in an effective manner should be based more on an individual based effort. While nation based exams such as the PARCC are important in creating a standard that prepares students for college, it becomes increasingly evident that there is a huge discrepancy amongst students performance rates based upon their geographical settings. Gosner states, “The reality is that, a school like Roberto Clemente — where Spanish is the primary language spoken in the vast majority of its students’ homes and where teachers must tailor lessons to the many different learning needs and levels of students in each classroom (a common teaching practice known as differentiation) — there will always be at a sizable disadvantage on standardized tests”. Gosner does an excellent job in shedding light on this problem. While it might be impossible to create a PARCC that is equally favorable to all of its test takers, it is important to still utilize it as a valuable resource in understanding how to bridge this gap.
The PARCC exam tests the knowledge of students through an assessment focused on a child’s reading skills. The exam is based on a standard that needs to be met on a national level, which makes it all the more evident that there are various disparities that exist amongst students. The PARCC should be utilized as a tool by educators, rather than a reason for punishment of educators or students. Principal Mendez of Roberto Clemente Elementary School states, “ “The PARCC assessment does not create differences or disadvantages; it measures where students are performing in relation to grade-level standards,” wrote Reams via email. “What is fair is to give parents, students, and teachers honest information about where students are performing in relation to the grade-level standards”. The PARRC exam tests for all the skills a student must have in accordance to their reading levels for their grade, making it the optimal tool to utilize cultivate students into succesfully getting better at reading. While it is important to keep in mind that these grade based standards exist, students should not be discouraged if they are not up to par with these standards but should be motivated to work harder, while being recognized for all of their hard work and improvement.