Wednesday, September 16, 2015

PARCC Assessment Comments -- "Read them and Weep....."

We have begun receiving a steady stream of comments regarding the release of the PARCC Assessment Results.  We are happy to oblige an anonymous reader's request that we create a free standing post where comments can be submitted.  Below are the ones we have already received. As alway, we invite you to sound off!

Be sure to click on the link in the last comment copied below.  It shows the preliminary data ISBE released today.  Pitiful. Looks like school district administrative spin machines are about to kick into high gear state wide.....

Comments received so far:

Anonymous said...
Part 1: Bloggers: I'm copying an email letter D181 parents and community members received today and that is also posted on the D181 website regarding the upcoming state release of the PARCC assessment scores. That is the test that replaced the ISAT tests. I don't know about you, but I read this letter as preemptive excuse making, should D181's students score badly.....

Text of Letter: "This letter is to share news on the initial release of PARCC Assessment data and to provide an update on efforts to review our District 181 Assessment Framework.

Assessments are of critical importance for continuous improvement. They are used to support students by informing instruction, guiding differentiation, and measuring growth for individuals and groups of learners. Some assessments provide immediate feedback, and some are used to create comparative analyses over time. To this end, we have built a robust assessment framework that includes nationally normed assessments as well as formative assessments that help our classroom teachers make day-to-day decisions about students' content mastery and help our team of educators make long-term decisions about curriculum and instruction across the District.

Our Assessment Framework must include a balance of all types of assessments while also being sensitive to the time that is taken from the actual tasks of teaching and learning. We are currently reviewing this balance and considering which assessments could be eliminated in response to consistent feedback from teachers, parents, and administrators. It is important we continue to talk with our community about why we administer each of our assessments, how they benefit students, are how they are used in decision making.

The PARCC Assessment is not being considered for elimination, as it is state-mandated, having replaced the previous Illinois Standards Assessment Test (ISAT). The first administration of the PARCC Assessment during the 2014-15 school year was a challenge for districts across the state. Change can be hard, especially considering the move from a written format to an online format and most importantly, the alignment of PARCC questions to the new Common Core standards. I am extremely proud of the partnership of D181 staff and parents in supporting our students' participation. We did not allow what seemed to be daunting hurdles to get in the way of our efforts to create a positive testing experience."
Anonymous said...
Part 2 -- Letter from Don White re PARCC tests:

"I recently received a communication from the State Superintendent Dr. Tony Smith in which he notes that the State Board of Education will release "the initial, and still incomplete, statewide results from the PARCC test" on Wednesday, September 16. I am excited to see how Illinois students have performed. According to Dr. Smith, district and student level data is not ready for release to school districts and may not be shared until later this fall. We will post a link to the released data on our website as it is made available ( > Learning > Assessment > PARCC). On this same webpage, we have posted an important memo outlining changes to PARCC that have been announced for 2015-16.

I think it is extremely important we understand that PARCC is simply one assessment, a part of the District's overall assessment framework along with components like the MAP Assessment, end-of-unit tests, and teacher observations. We must be cautious not to overreact to any one set of data and should focus on how data can inform and ultimately improve our work. Dr. Smith highlighted this caution in regard to the PARCC data. He shared that while the numbers are not final, the percentage of students across Illinois who demonstrate proficiency are likely to be lower than the percentage of students who were proficient on the ISAT. The State Superintendent said it well when he offered that "the initial [PARCC] results are simply a new baseline from which we can move forward."

Taking on warranted challenges are worth the effort when students benefit and when educators are stretched to consider new strategies for improving our practices to better support the children we serve. I am confident that if the State can accomplish the goal of providing individual student results by the start of the school year in the future, PARCC will be a great tool to help educators provide improved learning opportunities.


Don White, Ph.D.
Jill Quinones said...
I guess I am most troubled by the last sentence that reads in part "PARCC will be a great tool to help educators provide improved learning opportunities." As we know, more and more states, both those that have and have not abandoned the Common Core, have dropped out of PARCC. Illinois is now one of only 12 or 13 states using it. A recent article in Education week revealed that cut scores were set by teachers sent from each state analyzing data and making recommendations to PARCC representatives who then looked at where the actual student test scores would fall using those teacher-recommended scores and then adopted "mid range" cut scores - whatever that means. I have never heard of test cut scores being based on actual student performance when you are trying to hold students to a certain standard of performance.

My understanding is that the scores posted tomorrow will not include those from students who took the test paper/pencil - only computer. In Ohio that meant 36% of the students' scores were not included.

As a teacher, no one has yet been able to articulate to me in any specific way how a student's score on this test will translate into improved learning opportunities. I personally have little faith that the scores will really reflect what the CCSS expect to be mastered.
Jill Quinones said...
For anyone interested, PARCC released today a mock score report:

Level 2 Standard score 700, Level 3 725, Level 4 750 and Level 5 depends on grade and subject. No word on how actual score translated into Standard Score....
Jill Quinones said...
PS - States are allowed to change the Pearson-set cut scores and set there own...
Anonymous said...
Bloggers: Please create a freestanding post for PARCC comments. Here's another one. Read this and weep:
Anonymous said...
No one in HS Math exceeded expectation on the PARCC assessment:


Anonymous said...

D181 Teacher said...

I work in the district, and I helped proctor the PARCC test. I just wanted to go on record to say that PARCC blows. HARD! There are so many rules you have to follow, with many that make you go WTF?!? Like if you use scratch paper on the math tests, you have to use not just pencils (so no pens or markers), but wood pencils. Plus, only certified staff can administer the test & anything to do with that. So if a kid has a computer problem while taking a test, the tech can't even touch the computer. The tech has to tell the teacher how to fix it. And of course, any and all problems have to be reported.

To make it worse, we the teachers were only given a crash course on how to do it. We barely got any training on how to administer it, much less show the kids how to take it. I just have to wonder how much of the low scores is from just not knowing how to take the test.

Anonymous said...

This is pathetic, especially how much we pay in taxes. We as a district need to be in the high 90s, if not 100%, in meet or exceeds. Any teachers who got less than 90% seriously needs to be fired. Immediately.

The Parents said...

7:54: We disagree with you that teachers who got less than 90% need to be fired. No one knows yet how the D181 students scored, but if it is true that states can modify the cut scores based upon actual performance of students in their state, then what the heck do the scores mean anyway? Plus, if that is true, then we would expect that D181's students will be amongst those that did meet or exceed the cut scores since they have generally been higher performers than most Illinois districts. Regardless, the scores on this stupid test will not reflect on the teachers' performance. We believe that the majority of D181's teachers are doing their very best in a very bad situation. In our opinion, not only has the administration's social justice curriculum experimentation caused chaos for our students, but Illinois has compounded that chaos by forcing school districts to implement PARCC while other states have pulled out. This is the fault of many people, but we don't believe it's fair to blame the teachers.

Anonymous said...

When the scores for our district are finally released, I expect a full report and analysis to the BOE and the community by the new Assessment Director recently hired by Don White. If Don presents the report, then why is tax $ being used to pay another administrative salary? If Don does it, we should all ask why he needs to provide cover for yet another administrator. I for one can't wait to hear her report....

Anonymous said...

I believe the poor results on the PARCC and other comparable tests across the country prove that testing the Common Core at such an early point in time was a total waste of time for our teachers and our kids. If the state required us to take the test, they should have provided the training, materials, and funding for each school district to properly prepare for it. They did not. That is why so many parents and teachers across the country opposed PARCC in the first place. It is unfortunate that our state and schools forced our children to take this test when our district was not actually ready to take it. Remember, this was not the tried and true ISAT. PARCC was, and still is, a new, controversial test only recently created to assess students on materials that they never properly learned. Our kids didn't have common core approved math books until this year. They still don't have common core social studies or language arts materials. So why were our children suddenly expected to know the materials? Children and teachers shouldn't be blamed. The old head of public schools in Illinois, Mr. Koch, should be blamed for claiming it was against the law for our children to not take the tests. Too bad most parents don't realize this. Do you think children in private schools like The Lab School, Avery Coonley, or Francis Parker wasted their time on this test? Nope. Obama's kids didn't have to take it, so why should yours?

Also, no school district in America has ever been financially penalized for not having enough students take the test. If anyone can identify a public school in America that has actually suffered a financial loss due to not enough children taking the PARCC, please let me know. It is simply an excuse the administrators use to force children and teachers to take and administer the test. If our district, one which always used to meet state testing requirements, had never been identified as a school that wasn't meeting standards, or one which consistently having problems with student participation, we would have been notified and given multiple warnings. We have never gotten one. It is a shame that so many children and teachers lost over 4? 6? days of instruction just to learn how to take a very experimental test. Remember there were 2 parts to this multi day test.

I for one, wish my kids could have gotten to do what the Obama children did during PARCC - learn.

Anonymous said...

To try to understand the PARCC ranges and PARCC Range names, I tried translating the HS ranges for math to the ACT score that a student achieving a similar percentile on the Math Section would achieve. The ranges look a bit odd to me.

Illinois State level 8th grade math

PARCC Range PARCC Range Name ACT Math score consistent with PARCC Range
84% - 100% Met expectations 26-36
59% - 83% Approached expectations 22-25
23% - 58% Partially met expectations 15-22
0 - 22% Did not meet expectations below 15

Jill Quinones said...

Unfortunately, that's like comparing apples to oranges. The ACT is a straight-up achievement test of content knowledge in the areas it tests (Math, English, Science, Writing). No reasoning included. PARCC is testing progress toward grade level standards. While these do include content, the test (allegedly) is more about how a student reasons through problem solving.

I'm not really sure where you got 84-100 being "met expectations" etc. ACT doesn't group scores into quadrants or quintiles. Any percentages reported for ACT regarding how students scored %ile wise differs every time the test is given.

PARCC is scored on 5 levels (quintiles): Level 1 is below 700, Level 2 is 700-724, Level 3 is 725-749. Level 4 is 750-802 and Level 5 is 803 and above corresponding to Did Not Meet, partially, Approached, Met, Exceeded. The raw scores that comprise the scaled scores are hush-hush and subject to some controversy as to how they were set. In addition, states are allowed to change what scores = what level if they want.

The more one reads about PARCC, the lower one's confidence drops!

Anonymous said...

"I'm not really sure where you got 84-100 being "met expectations" etc."

From the link that showed Illinois PARCC results for HS students.

"Any percentages reported for ACT regarding how students scored %ile wise differs every time the test is given."

Google ACT percentile distribution and you can find it. They are actually pretty stable.

There is one thing that I do not understand. I only care that our kids HS grades, SAT/ACT test scores, and ECs are strong enough to get them into a respectable college. Why should anyone care about the PARCC if it does not correlate to any of those things? If my kids have good grades, and 30+ ACT score, I really do not care if they get "Did not meet expectations" on the PARCC. Why would I? So what? It doesn't mean anything. Can someone enlighten me about why I should care?

Jill Quinones said...

1:32 - This is the link to Illinois PARCC results and I still font's see the "84-100 met expectation" description - can you post the link you are looking at?

As to ACT, they are pretty stable, but do fluctuate. Most of our kids did a bit better when they used tot make the test in 11th grade as part of the PSAE as all kids in Illinois took it, not just college-bound (who tend to score better) and it was normed using IL norms as it was not a National testing dat.

As of right now you should not care about PARCC, in my opinion, other than your student's loss of instruction time if they happen to be in a class taking the test. If there ever comes the day when colleges look at these results as being a true indicator of college readiness (and I hope that never happens) or high schools require a certain level of competency to issue a diploma (probably will never happen), then it might be time to care.

Jill Quinones said...

Not sure I included the link in my last post:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jill,

"This is the link to Illinois PARCC results and I still font's see the "84-100 met expectation" description - can you post the link you are looking at?"

I am looking at the same link that you are. I am not saying that 84-100 percent of students met expectation. I am saying that it says that math students scoring in the 84 -100%ile achieved met expectations.

1. The lowest scoring group was "Did not meet expectations" 22% of the students were in this category. So, students scoring in the 0%ile -22%ile range scored "Did not meet expectations"

2. The next group is comprised of 37% of students. Since 22% of students were below that we know that this group scored fro the 23%ile - 59%ile. They "Partially met expectations"

3. The next 24% "Approached expectations" 59% of student were below these. So they scored in the 60%-83%ile range.


Then I am comparing those percentiles to ACT score percentiles.

Jill Quinones said...


Now I see your calculations. Thanks for clarifying.

The reason the PARCC ranges look so odd is in part because NO IL high school student on PARCC math exceeded expectations, therefore percentiles were only spread over 4 categories not 5. With ACT there are always students who score a perfect 36. Also, the percentiles in Illinois are not national like ACT. If you look at Ohio Parcc results for HS, they actually divided theirs among 4 different levels of math, but looking at Algebra 1, Lowest quintile: 0-8%, Next 9-36%, next 37%-64%, next 65%-98% and top 99%.

Again, the expectations on the PARCC are quite different than on the ACT and I can see some very bright kids, especially with math, doing much better on the ACT as sometimes they just know how to get the answer, and it's right, but they cannot explain it. PARCC is a lot of explaining.

Anonymous said...

" I can see some very bright kids, especially with math, doing much better on the ACT as sometimes they just know how to get the answer, and it's right, but they cannot explain it. PARCC is a lot of explaining."

Sure, but many of them can. The zero percent exceeding expectations for high school math, tells me that the people setting the ranges have no idea what they are doing.

It is true that on the ACT students sometimes just know how to get the answer. However, on the SAT that is much more difficult because they tend to ask students to apply what they have learned in unusual ways. If the students don't really understand it, they will find that difficult.

Central is sending kids to MIT, Stanford, the Ivy League, Northwestern, UofC, and U of I in engineering, math, and science. If you do not understand what you are doing, those schools will fail you. It really is that simple. You will not make it through the first semester. Saying that zero percent of these students exceeded expectations tells me nothing about the students at all. It only tells me that the morons at PARCC can write a test and set a scale that is too hard for anyone.

That suggests to me that the purveyors of the exam are trying to impress us with their very high standards. Just like the purveyors of the Emperor's new clothes.

I think they should schedule a day for parents, teachers, administrators, and BOE members to take the test and lets see how they do. :)

Jill Quinones said...

The HS reported score for PARCC is really meaningless - at any level - as high schools got to pick which classes/grade level took the test and it did not need to be all of them. I forget off the top of my head which classes took it at HC, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the calculus classes! To lump all High Schools in the state together no matter which class/grade they gave the test to results in meaningless data. Yes, you would expect some in all the state to have exceeded standards,but I think Ohio does a much better job of reporting it out by which math class (algebra, Geometry, etc.) took the class.

Let's also remember that instead of unfolding these CCSS one grade at a time, starting in K, they were foisted on K-12 all at the same time. Kind of hard to exceed expectations that you didn't even know existed the year before!

I am not a fan of the test, from creation to administration to scoring to norm setting it is riddled with controversy and as a teacher I have no confidence in any of these processes.

Fundamentally, the idea that colleges had to put too many kids into remedial math and reading and there needed to be a better way of determining exactly why kids were graduating from HS with As, Bs and Cs in these classes and then needed remediation is logical and appealing. Using the PARCC test for this purpose is neither.

jay_wick said...

If anyone took time to take the PARCC sample assessment online, as I did, you would almost certainly be horrified that such a convoluted and intimidating test was imposed upon school aged children. PARCC PRACTICE TEST NAVIGATION CLIENT BTW -- Though I work in a rather technology-forward company and have ALL major versions of browsers available to me, this site ONLY worked on Firefox...

Regardless of how you feel about the goals of Common Core (here is what a well know California Department of Education says about them, Mission, Goals, and Benefits of the Common Core State Standards | Orange County California and I can refute most points now...) any sane person can see it is "educationally indefensible" to continue to use PARCC. There are now only eleven other states tied to this train wreck -- PARCC & Common Core Shifting Testing Landscape |

It is imperative that we tell our State Legislators (who are busy fighting over who can look more obstinate in their comic but calamitous Budget Wars of Springpatch) to direct the ISBE to find a better assessment ASAP. We cannot stand by as our district, and every other in Illinois is forced to waste more precious class time that is better spent educating children.

Anonymous said...

When do the students get their PARCC results back?

Anonymous said...

I feel like the PARCC and the new school are distractions from the biggest issue in d181.

The key question is, what does d181 have to do to repair the damage done by the learning for none program, and get each grade to the point where they have the usual level of students in each grade prepared to be successful in Algebra II / Trigonometry, and Geometry when they complete d86 and begin high school?

I am not sure why this issue is not still front and center until there is a clear path to get them there?

Anonymous said...

To the Bloggers:
Would you please make a free standing post on the ridiculous excuse for a math ability grouping update in Dr. White's board of education report for Monday's meeting? Parents should be aware that the administration is stalling and asking for more time to collect results on how our kids are doing in math after completing two chapters. The Board told Dr. White math must have ability groups and it looks like this depends on the teacher your kid gets. Also, Dr. T is only working 100 days in the Learning Department. By my count she has already worked about 37 days. What projects has she or will she complete since math ability grouping results won't be reviewed now until sometime in October?
Another waste of time and money. More lip service from the administration.