With the adoption of the Common Core Standards by nearly every state in the nation, comes the need for tests that can assess the new standards. Two different testing systems are currently on the table led by two groups who have received $330 million in grants from the Race to the Top Assessment Program. The Department of Education explains the difference this way:
- PARCC - Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers: The PARCC will test students' ability to read complex texts, complete research projects, excel at classroom speaking and listening assignments, and work with digital media. PARCC will also replace the one end-of-year high stakes accountability test with a series of assessments throughout the year that will be averaged into one score, reducing the weight given to a single test, and providing valuable information to students and teachers throughout the year.
- SMARTER - Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium: The SMARTER will test students using computer adaptive technology that will ask students tailored questions based on their previous answers. SMARTER will continue to use one test at the end of the year for accountability purposes, but will create a series of interim tests used to inform students, parents, and teachers about whether students are on track.
What does this mean for you? If you're a parent, it's just a heads-up. Keep in mind that with nearly every state's adoption of the standards, your child may be getting a state test unlike he or she has ever seen before, which could cause some testing anxiety. So, reassure your child if he or she seems worried about the changes that are already underway. Let him or her know that although it's not going to be "business as usual" the new curriculum that comes from the standards is designed to help them throughout college and into their careers as adults.