PARCC - Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers

  • PARCC logoPARCC—Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers

    All Illinois public school students in Grades 3-8 are required by law to participate in state-administered testing in reading and math. Two years ago the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) was replaced with a new state accountability assessment developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The PARCC exam measures a student’s general Math and English/Language Arts skills. The Illinois State Board of Education has created a new website called “PARCC Place.” This site provides parents with information about PARCC. 


    What is PARCC?

    PARCC is a consortium of several states, including Illinois, that have chosen to work together to develop a new generation of state administered accountability tests. The PARCC test was developed to be fully aligned with the Common Core State Standards and measures a broad range of skills, including problem solving, critical thinking, and purposeful writing, all essential skills for future success. Given a test format that more closely aligns to the kinds of academically challenging work students are doing in school, PARCC is designed to provide better information about student progress toward the long-term goal of college and career readiness than multiple-choice tests like the ISAT were able to provide.

    PARCC also has a section of its website specifically designed for parents. You can access this section by clicking PARCC Parent Resources.

    The National PTA has posted information for parents about state assessments on its website.

    What does the PARCC test look like?

    PARCC assessments will be administered once during the school year. The PARCC exam is designed to give teachers and parents a comprehensive look at how a student is mastering knowledge expected for the student’s grade level in the areas of English/language arts and Math.

    In March, the PARCC exam will be administered. In the area of English/language arts, students will read passages, answer complex comprehension questions and write essays about what they read. In the area of Math, students will solve applied problems and explain how they came to the solution. The PARCC exam also contains traditional multiple choice items.

    District 15 students take the PARCC exam on a computer or Chromebook. This similar to the way students take MAP test, which starts in second grade.

    Example PARCC exams for each grade level can be found at the PARCC website. 

    Is PARCC testing mandated?

    The State Superintendent of Schools, Chris Koch, has clearly stated that there is no option for a parent to keep his/her child from participating in PARCC testing. Schools and districts must administer these assessments. Students may not opt out of the PARCC assessment.

    Federal law—specifically, the Elementary Education and Secondary Education Act (also known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001)—requires states (including Illinois) receiving Title I funds to provide for the participation in the state’s academic assessment of all designated students. See Section 1111(b)(3)(c)(ix)(I) of that law. A district that allows students to opt out of the state’s required test would directly violate both federal and state law.

    Parents may not keep students from participation. Students without a legitimate excuse will be marked with an unexcused absence.

    The Illinois State Board of Education has written this letter to parents.

    When will District 15 be giving the PARCC assessments?

    Each year, Illinois provides a test window during which all school districts must give and complete the PARCC exam. Typically, District 15 administers the PARCC exam in March. In 2017-18, the test window is from March 5-16, 2018. Make-ups are from March 19-23, 2018.

    How will the PARCC Test results be used?

    The first year of PARCC will be a year in which student performance from all PARCC consortium states will be reviewed carefully to develop test norms. In that sense, the PARCC test results for Spring 2015 are a benchmark that gives schools and parents a snapshot of how their students performed relative to other students who took the test that year.

    Since there will be only one year of results, score patterns or trends cannot yet be examined. PARCC test results will not be used for decision making about student placements for the foreseeable future—until the reliability of the test results are well established. Over time, it will be possible to review patterns of performance and to use the information from PARCC tests for more meaningful comparisons.

    PARCC results are designed to be reported in a way that should help teachers and parents see how well a student is currently mastering and applying the expected knowledge for their grade level. The results may be used to plan instruction for the following year. Typically, PARCC results are available and sent home in the late fall.

    What has District 15 done to prepare for PARCC?

    District 15 has taken a number of steps to prepare our students for the PARCC assessment over the course of the past several years.

    • Our professional staff members have received extensive professional development in the area of Common Core aligned instruction and provide students with challenging learning experiences.

    • We have been implementing Common Core standards aligned instruction for two years.

    • The district began using Common Core aligned achievement testing (MAP) in 2013 to allow us to begin planning for students' learning needs as we implemented Common Core.

    • Teachers have been provided with opportunities during their weekly professional development activities to review PARCC practice test items for English/language arts and math, and to plan ways in which to integrate performance-based tasks like those that will be on the PARCC test.

    How can parents help to prepare their children for PARCC testing?

    The PARCC website offers some suggestions to parents:

    • Read a combination of fiction and non-fiction aloud or with your child. Look for subjects of interest—from sports heroes to dinosaurs.

    • Discuss and “do” real-life math with your child. Help him/her know basic math facts.

    • Discuss the new tests with your child. Make sure he/she is not scared or anxious going into the new tests.

    • Explain to your child that the tests will initially be more challenging. Tell your child to do his/her best on the test and that you are there to help every step of the way.

    • After the test, review the results with your child. Bring the teacher into the discussion as needed.

    • Provide a quiet, comfortable place for studying at home and make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep and a nutritious breakfast before a test.

    • Above all, be positive and encouraging about the tests.

    Testing Schedule for PARCC

    • Grades 3-8, Language Arts & Math, March 3-15, 2019

    Standardized Testing Schedule