Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

New assessment tests to be taken online over about nine hours of class time

Staff writer

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The top thing that Clovis Municipal Schools seems to know about its new assessment testing is that they don’t know much about the process so far.

Administrators are still getting new information daily on the Partnership Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. Staff at CMS is working on the changeover, required when New Mexico dropped its Standards Based Assessment to become one of six states and the District of Columbia in PARCC, based on Common Core standards.

According to a fact sheet from the state’s public education department, the assessment for students in grades 3-11 will include, “performance assessment items or tasks that go beyond choosing answers on multiple-choice questions to demonstrated deep understanding and advanced problem solving skills through simulations, mock experiments and other innovative types of items.”

The main changes for students, District Superintendent Cindy Martin said, is that the “fill in the bubbles on a form” testing is mostly gone and the tests are taken online with many multi-part questions. Martin said sample online exams were given at various schools in the district to show the district what to expect.

“Timewise, it was comparable (to the SBAs),” Martin said, “but I don’t foresee that being the case on every grade level,” Martin said. “It’s going to take the third-graders a while (on typed responses).”

Superintendent Jody Balch said during last week’s city-county luncheon that the district expects scores to take a plunge, based mainly on what’s happened for the first year for other PARCC states. Both he and Martin noted New York’s scores dropped 70 percent during the PARCC launch year.

“(The reason) depends on what state you listen to, or who you listen to,” Martin said. “Some will say it’s because of the change in the standards, some will say it’s a change in the test and some will say it’s a combination of the two.”

Testing is expected to be spread out over a few weeks and take about nine hours of total class time to cover two separate exams — a performance-based assessment test in early March after 75 percent of the school year is complete and an end-of-year test in mid-April after the 90 percent mark of the school year. There will be five language and four math sessions between the two tests. Martin said science testing is not included in PARCC, but the state will provide a separate science testing component.

The PARCC will have performance levels from 1-5, but how the scores are set and what they mean will be set after testing is concluded.

Results for the school year won’t be delivered, Martin said, until about the following November.

Martin said much of the uncertainty lies with being in a brand new system, but teachers have adjusted well to what’s been thrown their way. New materials are coming in even now, as Martin received a box of Common Core workbooks Wednesday morning.

“Our teachers have done a tremendous job,” Martin said. “They’ve spent hours of their own time for preparation. We have been blessed with the time they’ve worked on that.”