Students, teachers prepare for new testing assessment

Students, teachers prepare for new testing assessment

WEINER, AR (KAIT) - A big change is coming in Arkansas education.

This spring, students across the state will take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers, or PARCC, assessment.

It is the first year they will take the fully computerized exam based on Common Core curriculum.

The exam is very unfamiliar and Region 8 schools are feeling the stress because with a new exam comes new expectations and skills.

"My sixth graders have been a little stressed," math teacher at Weiner Elementary, Tonya Matthews said.

They are stressed because this test is unlike the Benchmark exam or any other standardized test.

"No more number 2 pencil, fill in the bubbles," Matthews said. "It's all computer based and it does follow a whole new set of frameworks and standards. Following common core as opposed to the Arkansas frameworks."

Its changes are forcing schools, like Weiner Elementary, to make changes in the classroom.

"Just exposing them more to online lessons, and we've been doing some practice PARCC tests online," science teacher at Weiner Elementary, Tara Harrelson said.

Mathews said she's thankful Weiner Elementary is a one to one school, meaning each student has either a laptop or tablet. This is especially important since the PARCC exam is online.

"We are doing testing on our laptops, our Macbooks, our Chrome books," Matthews said. "Just trying to get them familiar with that because when it comes time for the park assessment, that's going to be a big deal."

Because younger generations are exposed to technology very early, teachers aren't necessarily worried about the online aspect of the test. The main concern is the actual questions because they are written to Common Core standards.

"The wording is different from any kind of standardized testing that they are used to," Matthews said.

While students are preparing, the teachers are a little panicked because there are no previous scores to study.

"It's a baseline, so none of us really know what to expect," Matthews said. "We can do the practice test. We can do whatever we are supposed to do, but none of us really know what to expect."

Even with the panic, teachers are remaining calm for the sake of the kids.

"They feed from us a lot of time," Matthews said. "So if we remain calm, then they will remain calm."

A bill was proposed to allow Arkansas to opt-out of the PARCC test, as others states have done. While Harrelson believes they will take the exam, she said they are always ready for something to change.

"Just as an educator in general, you have to be flexible," Harrelson said. "As long as you're teaching the curriculum and you're prepared, then I think that you are always going to have curve balls."

Harrelson and Matthews agreed they want this unfamiliar test to be over with, but they are confident their students will excel.

Students across the state will take the assessment in the spring.

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