It's almost May, which means it's almost PARCC Season here in our school district. This year we're only taking the "End-of-Year" test, which I have to put in quotes because the 4th marking period is barely underway: this is NOT the END of the year by any means, not with 7-8 weeks left! (Last year we had a PARCC window just before Spring Break and another only a couple weeks afterward - NUTS!)
At any rate, neither child took PARCC last year, and our refusal letters have been sent for this year as well. This afternoon, The Monkey began to write down her thoughts about PARCC: she wanted a "brain dump," a place where she could put into words her impressions from last year and some thoughts about the test and how she'd like to spend the time this year, hoping that they could be read publicly. I haven't really edited, just posting what she wrote, in her own words, at her request. Without further ado, I give you: MONKEY!
My idea of the PARCC testing
By: 5th grader at MES
I am a 5th grade student at MES, and I have to go through the PARCC testing. I am in 5th grade, so this is only my second year of refusing PARCC (in 3rd grade, I had to take the MSA instead). As I have not actually taken PARCC, I do not know what the actual test is like (but I have taken the sample ELA test). I am assuming though, that it is not very easy, because when I was in 4th grade, and, if I remember correctly, they gave us 95 minutes for the test with 60 questions I think they said. So it must have been hard. Even if they had taken one minute for each question, it still would have left us with only an hour to do the test. Maybe because they wanted us to finish in time.
At one point in the PARCC testing, they said to the 4th grade students something like, “And at the end of the test, you will find a question where you must make up a short story at least three paragraphs long, using the words below.” That was one of the questions! It starts to make me wonder how hard the test really is. That also brings me to think, if it’s really that hard for all of the questions, then maybe the test is too hard for the students, and therefore might be an unfair test to young students. My mom told me that they use the students grades on PARCC, partly to test the teachers. If they give the students a really hard test, then their score wouldn’t be high, and then the teachers would need to teach “better”. I like my teacher just the way she is. She is a great teacher.
My mom also told me that in the manual, the people who made PARCC said that non-testing students can’t be seated in the room with the testing students, because it would be a distraction to the other testing students. [Mom's note: this was explicitly stated in last year's PARCC administration manual, although the language has been changed for 2016.] Last year, I refused the PARCC, but they still kept me at my normal seat, next to testing students. My mom asked the school if I could go help out in other classrooms, but yet, they still had me stay in the classroom for the whole testing time, every testing day. It was kind of annoying, but it did provide me with plenty of time to read or think.
Although PARCC gave me some good things too. I missed some of class time (but not all, which was good, because I like school), so I could have a “brain-break” thing, which was very useful. I also got to read a lot because since I refused, I just sat there in the room, had the headphones on that they provided us with (to block out any distracting noise), and simply read the whole time. After that very long period of time reading, my reading grade went up. So in a way, by refusing PARCC, I improved my reading (although I am very glad that they don’t say that if we take the test, it will make us smarter, because it didn’t make me any smarter, I actually got smarter by refusing the test, although not directly.)
A couple things I would love to do instead of sitting around for an hour to two hours each time, would be:
Help out in another classroom
Finish any other schoolwork
Write a story
Do anything useful
Thursday, April 28, 2016
How Does a Veteran PARCC Refuser Feel About PARCC?
I've always been a musician and music teacher, which got me interested in how the brain works. When my first child was born with some neurological issues that we've since learned can be helped by our diet and lifestyle, we began to learn more.... and more... and now my head is spinning with the things I'm learning about how the Standard American Diet (and lifestyle!) not only was hurting us but how it impacts all of us. Frustrated with The System that assumes that One Size Fits All and that leadership (and therefore information and power) must come from the Top Down, I suppose I'm also just a teensy bit subversive. LOL (That and I'm into parenthetical asides.) I'm the author of My Very Own Crunchy and Progressive Parenting Blog and Scratchpad; my eldest is the primary author of Stuff I Wish My Teachers Knew (under construction). :-)