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PARCC to Shorten Next Year's Common-Core Test

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The PARCC consortium approved Wednesday a redesigned Common Core test that will be 90 minutes shorter than the current 10- to 11-hour-long assessment. The revised test will be used in the 2015-2016 academic year, shortening the PARCC mathematics and English/language arts tests administered to students in grades 3-11.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers also agreed to shift the testing period to later in the school year and cut the testing window down from 12 weeks to 30 days. This year, schools began testing as early as Feb. 16, but next year testing will not be able to start until 75 percent of instruction has been completed. Testing next year must also conclude by the time 90 percent of instruction has been completed.

Instead of taking the test over a period of eight or nine sessions lasting 60-90 minutes, as per current practice, students will complete the test in six or seven slightly longer units ranging from 75-110 minutes. However, a representative sample of 15-25 percent of students will be chosen to field-test possible English/language arts questions for next year's test, adding 75-110 minutes back into test time for these students.

Currently, eleven states and the District of Columbia use PARCC tests.

The latest redesign may draw some positive feedback from administrators and teachers who may have an easier time fitting the test into academic schedules. But concerns from state and district leaders, teachers, and parents about the tests' length have been persistent over the past several years, and they are likely to remain despite the shortened assessment. In response to these frustrations, Ohio recently passed a bill to eliminate funding for PARCC, and the Colorado legislature passed a law exempting 11th graders from taking the PARCC exams.

For further analysis, see Education Week reporter Catherine Gewertz's recent coverage of the PARCC redesign. 


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