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PARCC Tests Leaves Denver with Mixed Emotions

The recent addition of a new statewide test leaves Denver schools with mixed emotions. The new assessments are designed to be more demanding than was initially developed by PARCC (Partnership of Readiness for College and Careers).

The new PARCC test has fewer questions than the ones from the previous state test, the TCAP, along with more in-depth problems. Another student said that the previous test was easier to prepare for and was based more on what he learned in class.

The tests are currently being promoted as a major improvement, rewarding reasoning instead of memorization, offering a more engaging experience and raising the bar, so that students can succeed in college and in life.

However, the tests have been met with opposition; with people stating that they take too much time, strains schools with limited resources, and mean little to students. Others are saying that unproven tests shouldn’t factor in school and district accreditation ratings – or be a component of teacher evaluations. A lot of the criticism is focused less on PARCC and more on the larger workload.

Not everyone is criticizing the new tests though, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg praised the new tests as being more sophisticated and focused on problem solving. He has also fought for fewer, shorter state tests.

Boasberg states that, “there is some irony here. Some of the folks saying we hate fill-in-the-bubble tests are saying these new tests that require you to write and explain yourself are too hard. Most people who have looked at them overwhelmingly say they are a huge step forward.”

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