School Systems Prepare For Common Core Testing Changes

An August 24 Baltimore Sun article examined the challenges county school boards are facing to implement the new testing requirements under Common Core.  The tests, which will replace the Maryland School Assessments, are called Partnership for Assessment for Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC).

These tests, aligned with the Common Core, will be much harder as the state begins to expect more analysis and deeper thinking from students. Pass rates of 80 percent and higher seen at most Maryland schools are expected to drop substantially in the spring.

Students may also expect to see more computers and laptops in their classrooms, as schools gear up to integrate technology in teaching and to give the new PARCC tests. Many school districts plan to give the PARCC tests online this coming school year, even though they will not be required to do so until the 2016-2017 school year.

The article noted how the Anne Arundel and Baltimore County and Baltimore City school systems have been upgrading student and school technology in preparation for administering PARCC :

Some school districts said they have used federal Race to the Top money to purchase new technology to give the tests online. Anne Arundel County will soon have about 8,000 Chromebooks at a cost of $2.6 million in addition to 33,000 desktops and laptops, according to Greg Barlow, the county’s technology officer. County schools have recently updated the bandwidth so they have the capacity to give the tests online.

Baltimore County has announced it plans to provide a device for every child over the next several years. It is introducing laptops to several grades at 10 elementary schools this fall and has supplied all of its teachers with the devices this summer.

[Baltimore] City officials said that after participating in the state’s PARCC field tests last year, when about 5,300 students took the exam online, the district is prepared. In the 2012-2013 school year, only six schools had administered a state assessment online, compared to 136 last year.