Go Ahead and Get the PARCC Testing Experience

Ok, you want to get a sense of what is coming in perhaps just two years in New York? Take a glimpse at the online based PARCC testing system developed by Pearson called TestNav8. As you go through the tutorial understand that 8/9 year olds will use this to take the spring state tests. The state put PARCC implementation on hold (NYSED’s favorite term) for one year. It is being field tested this spring and probably next fall and other states are already moving towards it.

In your mind think about taking these tests on pencil/paper and computer based (or tablet based with an external keyboard.) First thing that comes to mind for me: in school computer labs there are no kid sized keyboards. Typing anything of length is a challenge for them because of it and based on sample questions I’ve seen so far, there is a chance the students will be typing their long responses in a very small text editor where they can’t see the majority of their paragraphs on the screen. Add to this, the simple sound of keyboard tapping and we have an entirely new testing environment that was previoulsy devoid of outside sounds.

PARCC description of this tutorial: “This tutorial should be used to familiarize students with how to navigate the TestNav 8 computer-based environment (advancing, going back, tool bar, embedded supports and accommodations).”

Here is the site to check on a regular computer, not from a phone. The questions are not PARCC type questions. You can find some of those at this link.

Once again, we don’t even have short term studies from our state that indicate how students take tests differently on pencil/paper v. computer based testing (CBT). You’d need results from probably five years worth of tests that are half administered old way and half new way. Same test, different methods. Did it take more time on CBT or less? Were scores close to one another or not? What did students say about CBT? Teachers? Not just a one test, spring pilot. They are simply piloting this to check the tech end of things. The state will plow ahead with the “all in” approach instead of a gradual phase-in…again. I’d argue that the pencil/appear results from this year should not even be compared to future CBT.

Think about student erasing content/answers/their work. Easy in pencil world. On computer how many times does someone make a mistake in the beginning of a line and try to erase it only to erase the entire line. That could easily frustrate CBT’ers since they have a great chance at wiping out more work. The simple new distractions the online test brings to the screen are enough to distract a kid. There are two areas to work on math problems, turning ruler on and off, the reading guide on and off, changing color of the screen, and more.

Read more on the PARCC testing samples here at Chris Cerrone’s recent post on this topic. How about the potential for nealry 18 weeks of computer based testing under PARCC? Read more here.

The PARCC cost estimate is $29.50 per student, up from the current NY cost of around $15 per student (while I’ve seen a few posts online estimate the current NY costs, I have yet to find mention of it from NYSED.) The cost estimate does not include technology infrastructure and equipment upgrades necessary to deliver and administer the test. NY will be asked to come up with an estimated $30+ million more just to administer the test with districts having to come up with millions more to technologically prepare their schools. Also, PARCC is offering the test in paper-and-pencil format for an additional $4 per student in the first year.

Let’s hope PARCC remains permanently on hold. I want my kids to start using tech in schools to create, communicate, collaborate, not take tests.

Leave a comment


  1. Great post Brian. PARCC will definitely come on the school districts agenda soon.

  2. Cornelius Bayler

     /  April 5, 2014

    Let’s hope all state legislatures read this. All teachers and parents can relate, but they can’t get it through to the legislatures finding it entertaining to play school. Just wait until the tax payers get a whiff of the costs of not only the testing, but the additional technology equipment needed to be purchased just to become compliant and conduct the tests, while also stealing weeks of the learning time and technology resources away from the schools that they are actually paying taxes for in the first place. Let’s see, I’m paying taxes to educate children, but also to purchase tests and testing equipment that will eliminate the time that I’m paying for, to educate children. Real wise investment! Never have we seen such a mess!

  3. Reblogged this on HTA News & Views and commented:
    A detailed look at the upcoming PARCC exams.

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