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PARCC testing made its debut in 2015 as students in grades 3-11 sat for two rounds of tests in early and late spring.  Here are highlights of how students across the state of New Jersey performed.  Some significant changes to the upcoming 2016 PARCC tests are also described.

PARCC Rundown

PARCC tests are based on the Common Core standards and are administered entirely on the computer. The English Language Arts (ELA) component requires students to read several complex texts, answer comprehension and vocabulary questions, and write essays that draw evidence from the text.  Mathematics tasks assess students' mathematical reasoning as well as concepts, skills, and procedures.

PARCC results are reported in five separate categories from Level 1, "not yet meeting expectations" to Level 5, "exceeding expectations".  Levels 4 and 5 are considered passing scores. 

How did NJ students perform in 2015?

The table below shows the percentage of NJ students passing the PARCC tests (obtaining Levels 4 or 5) for English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. 

PARCC Passing Rates 
for NJ Students
3  44%  45%
4 51% 41%
5 52% 41%
6  49%  41%
 52% 37%
8 52% 24%
10  37%  
11  41%  
Algebra 1   36% 
Geometry    22% 
Algebra 2    24% 
*******************  ******************  ****************


Some Takeaways

A drop in standardized tests scores was expected.  PARCC tests are administered entirely on a computer and contain many new types of technology enhanced questions.  PARCC tests are also aligned with the Common Core education standards, which are intended to raise the academic bar, and are still new to most educators and students.

The table above shows: 

  • Students in lower grades did better on both ELA and math tests than students in high school.
  • In ELA, about half the students in grades 3 to 8 met or exceeded expectations, but scores dropped to about 40% passing in high school.  
  • In math, about 40% of students in grade 3 to 7 achieved a passing score.  The passing rate goes down to about 25% for students in grade 8, and those taking Geometry and Algebra II.  
  • For most grade levels, ELA scores were better than math scores.

In addition, a significant number of NJ students (20% to 30%, not shown in the table) scored Level 3 on the math and ELA exams. This means they are not yet at grade level but are "approaching expectations".  It is hopeful that with additional instruction and experience taking the PARCC test, many of these students could rise to a passing score of 4 or 5.

Changes to PARCC in 2016

PARCC assessments will undergo some design changes in 2016. These include:

  • In 2015, PARCC was administered as two separate tests - the Performance Based Assessment in March, and the End of Year test in April.  In 2016, the entire PARCC testing will be given once.  Schools will have approximately a one month window to administer the tests, but each grade level will complete it in one to two weeks.  For 2016, the testing window is April 4 - May 13 in grades 3-8, and April 11 - May 20 in high school.

  • Testing time will decrease by approximately 90 minutes in all grades (60 minutes in math and 30 minutes in English) from last year.  The new total testing time will range from 8.25 hours at 3rd grade level to 9.7 hours in high school.

  • There will be fewer testing units (or sections) for each grade level.  The redesigned ELA tests are composed of 3 units and the math tests are composed of 3 to 4 units.

Questions about your child?

If you are concerned about your students' PARCC scores or want to give them a boost for the upcoming tests, don't hesitate to contact the Somerset Learning Center.  We know how to prepare students for the test and can help your child improve skills and obtain the best possible score!  Learn more about the PARCC tests and our approach.

Lana Marshak, Somerset Learning Center Director, along with the certified teachers at SLC, have been helping students improve their grades and standardized test scores for 28 years!


Posted in: PARCC News


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