PARCC testing doesn’t serve students

The Beacon Staff

If there’s one thing Jackson-Reed staff, students, and administrators can all agree on, it is our frustration with the return of PARCC testing. 

These standardized exams, described by the official website of the DC Superintendent of Education as “annual assessments of mathematics and … ELA,” last six school days and inflict immeasurable amounts of trauma upon proctors and test-takers. Up until last school year, PARCC testing did not exist at the high school level; however DCPS freshmen and sophomores are once again being forced to sit through intensive exams in three different subjects: English and math PARCC, and biology through the DC Science Assessment.

PARCC testing builds stress while providing no direct benefit to students. The scores students receive do not impact them in any way, meaning they have literally no inclination to try. Instead, results are used to assess the quality of education provided by the school (and by individual teachers). Low scores affect teacher IMPACT evaluation scores which can limit their ability to get a raise or change positions in school. The decreasing relevance of exams such as the SAT and ACT support the idea that standardized testing is not an accurate representation of students’ knowledge. Therefore, it is unfair to judge educators based on test results, which undermines the purpose of PARCC in the first place.

Throughout the week there has been mass confusion regarding who is scheduled to test and when. The confusion regarding test scheduling should have been anticipated, since the exact same issue occurred last year and students faced similar consequences.

During PARCC, mornings are dedicated to test taking, which only allows for two 80-minute class periods a day, cutting learning time in half. With AP tests coming up, teachers and students are losing crucial time to finish reviewing material. In fact, due to PARCC limitations, students only had their classes two or three times between spring break and the beginning of AP exams in early May. 

After standardized testing draws to a close, students are left with intense burnout, making the remaining month and a half of classes seem pointless. These weeks of exams take away from the actual learning that should be the main focus of our time in school.

Jackson-Reed alone does not have the power to reverse this policy; still, we oppose the expansion of PARCC testing and the ways in which it disrupts our education. We hope that in the future, DCPS officials will more thoroughly weigh the numerous disadvantages of standardized tests such as PARCC before increasing their use.