Question Detail

How can we be sure the new tests, PARCC for example, won't just be testing students computer skills when their aim is to test CCSS?

Sep 12, 2013 1:33pm

I ask this question out of concern for my students. Several have very limited computer access/practice/typing abilities and even though our school system is doing all they can to make up for the lack, I fear my students won't be able to adequately respond to test questions. Thus, their answers won't accurately show their knowledge on the PARCC assessment. Any thoughts/suggestions appreciated!

  • English Language Arts / Math
  • Pre K-12
  • Assessment / Common Core


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    • Sep 13, 2013 6:33pm

      It's well worth checking out the sample items/tests that the consortia have posted. (We are an SBAC state, so I've only explored that one.) However, many of our teachers have explored the tests (sharing your same concern), and the consensus has been that we are best off focusing on instruction (via the instructional shifts) to help prepare our students.

      While I can't offer many specific strategies, familiarizing ourselves the sample items has been very insightful!

      Good luck!

      • Sep 19, 2013 2:47pm

        Thanks for your question! I agree with Torrey -- the best place to start is by looking at sample questions that PARCC has released ( The assessments are being designed for administration on computer and you will see some ways in which PARCC is using technology to make the questions more engaging for students. But, the goal is to assess students' knowledge and skills of the content - not of keyboarding, etc.

        Based on item tryouts we conducted in spring/summer 2013 and a wider field test in spring 2014, we will be able to evaluate whether the use of technology affects a student's ability to show what s/he knows and can do -- and will make adjustments to the tests as needed.

        I'd also encourage you to look here for more information about PARCC's accessibility features -- computer-based tools that ALL students will have access to during test administration:

        • Sep 19, 2013 3:04pm

          Thanks, Lesley. That helps. However, it leads me to another there a computer program teachers can use NOW that mimics the PARCC assessment? Students will need practice ahead of time. Also, you mention a field test of how computer testing affects students in 2014.....teacher evaluations will be based on those "field tested" scores. Schools will be judged and report cards made public on a test that is potentially invalid. Shouldn't that be a "kink" that is worked out before 2014? It seems unfair to students, teachers, and school systems. Is there any information/discussion about that?

          • Sep 19, 2013 4:18pm

            Hi - late this fall, PARCC is releasing test questions on the technology platform that will be used for field testing, so that will be a first chance to look at the technology. Next spring, there will also be online practice tests available for every grade level in both math and English language arts/literacy.

            A few important notes about the PARCC Field Test:

            - It is designed to ensure items are accurately measuring the knowledge and skills tested and that the questions provide a valid and reliable result of what students know and can do.

            - It will help inform test development, in preparation for the first operational administration of PARCC in 2014-2015

            - It will give schools and districts the opportunity to experience the administration of PARCC assessments.

            - They will NOT generate student scores, so data from them cannot be used in accountability systems

            I am not sure what state you are are from, but encourage you to check on the state's plans for field testing to clarify the plans.

            • Sep 20, 2013 10:11am

              Thank you again, Lesley. You have been most helpful. I will try to end with one more question. I spoke with my principal, and he doesn't believe we are one of the schools selected in Tennessee to participate in the online field test. Will those tests be available to everyone, participant or not? That would be wonderful. I truly want to do whatever I can to prepare my students and being able to see and "try it out" would be so beneficial. Thank you again for your time and help.