PARCC: Potential Practice or Perfectly Pointless?

By: Molly McCarthy, Ridgewood High School Junior

standardized testThis week I can sleep in until at least 10am each day and have no full length class periods. My classes are all in different orders, the school bell doesn’t ring,  and I will only see some of my teachers 3 times out of 5 days. Why? Because it is PARCC week, and I’ve chosen to “refuse” testing. Hundreds of students are enjoying this same easing back into school from break while hundreds are sitting for a three and a half hour testing period each morning.

Each year, high school freshman, sophomores and juniors are administered the PARCC test. PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and is given in the following states: Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island.

Unlike any standardized test that Public School students have encountered in the past, there is a very casual attitude toward the PARCC because it is so optional. In asking around, I found it hard to find people that hadn’t “opted out.” But the few I did find, that had sat for the test just minutes before being asked about it, said that it was pointless, too long, and extremely easy. They said that they finished very early and then had to sit there for a long time, and some even said they just wrote random answers because they knew it wouldn’t count against them. When I asked them why they did not “opt out” like many of their classmates, every person I asked said that their parents forced them to because they think it will give them valuable practice with online standardized tests in a setting where scores are not very important. It is unfortunate that students are now frustrated with their parents for making them take a test that school administration is not even forcing them to take.

I then asked people who had chosen to refuse the test why they made that choice and the consensus was largely that when faced with the option of a week of sleep-ins  vs a week of standardized testing, most would easily choose the former. Students also said that the test is “pointless” because it has no educational value and isn’t necessarily a graduation requirement. Many juniors, and even sophomores, have already taken other standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT and done well enough that taking the PARCC is no longer necessary for them to graduate.

Students are happy with their sleep ins and altered schedule, and it is easy to see why so many kids are opting out because doing so has been incentivized. Perhaps the amount of students taking the test would increase if students had to come in for a study hall if they weren’t taking the test, but as long as it is not required and will give them a chance to catch up on sleep, who can blame a stressed high school junior and his or her parents for deciding against taking the PARCC?

MollyMcCarthy2CropMolly McCarthy is a junior at Ridgewood High School, and one of four girls! She participates in New Players, Sharing the Arts, and Student Government among other things and is excited to share some tips and teenage perspective!

If you are a high school student and want to contribute for your town, send us an email with your name, school, year in school, and interests. Include a sample writing piece which best demonstrates your ability to convey your opinion or a story clearly and concisely. 

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