Ten things to know about Shelby County Schools’ readiness for the PARCC assessment

Officials from Shelby County Schools’ Office of Assessment and Accountability discussed with Chalkbeat their ongoing efforts to prepare students for The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, next year.

1. Chief of Planning & Accountability William White said a committee began meeting weekly to prepare for PARCC field testing in September and the actual test in spring 2015.  Leaders from assessment, technology, curriculum and instruction and a representative from the chief of staff have been present at all of the meetings.  “Everyone is essential in the planning process.  We’re a cross-functional team and there are a lot of moving parts.  The state is working with us as we complete our assessment of every school,” White said.

2. Assessment Advisor Dionne Williams said the district is in the process of figuring out the number of computers and compiling information to send to the state. The state will provide funds to help the district meet its needs.  “Whether we’ll need more technology or not is not quite clear,” White said.

3.  Shelby County Schools is trying to get ahead of the game.  “There’s the instructional part, the logistical part and the computers and servers,” White said. “The state is working with Shelby County Schools and we’ve had a good partnership.”

4.  Shelby County School students will take the first field test of the PARCC assessment beginning March 24 through April 11.   Only certain schools, grade levels and classes will be selected.   The second field test will be May 5 through May 16. The actual Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) will be given to all students beginning April 29 through May 5

5.  Director of Assessment & Accountability Rochelle Douglas said 190 schools will participate in the field test.

6. “We want students to take it seriously and try their best, but don’t stress out,” White said.  “With the field tests, there aren’t any consequences for students or for teachers’ value-added scores.  We’re not receiving any data back on how individual students performed.”

7.  Teachers will receive value-added  scores for the English language arts section of PARCC for the 2014-15 school year. Because TVAAS scores are based on a three-year rolling average, PARCC will only account for between 11 to 12 percent of a teacher’s evaluation during 2014-15.

8.  In Spring 2015, all students will take the PARCC assessment in reading and math.  The reading and language arts portion will require students to read two pieces of complex material and write two essays comparing and contrasting them.  In math, students will be required to explain how they arrived at their answers – the process is called constructive response assessment.  Students will still take the TCAP for science and social studies.

9. In February, Shelby County School students will take the writing assessment online.  The writing assessment doesn’t affect the district’s accountability or teachers’ value-added scores.

10.  White said the biggest challenge with the PARCC roll out will be establishing a testing schedule for a large number of students.  “We’re going to have to be good about scheduling.”   With a more challenging assessment, Williams added that there may be a drop in scores in some academic subjects.