Report: Illinois to drop unpopular PARCC exams

By Christopher Hacker
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 2/9/2018 4:50 PM
  • Marlowe Middle School students use their Chromebooks to take the state's new standardized test, PARCC, Tuesday in Lake in the Hills.

      Marlowe Middle School students use their Chromebooks to take the state's new standardized test, PARCC, Tuesday in Lake in the Hills. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Just three years after they launched, the use of controversial standardized tests known as Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers will be discontinued in Illinois, according to a report.

Launched in Illinois in 2015, PARCC is a set of reading and math exams designed to measure students' mastery of important educational milestones. The Illinois State Board of Education will now redesign the exams to shorten testing time and produce results more quickly, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday.

"I wouldn't miss [PARCC], I can tell you that much," Elaine Aumiller, superintendent of Mount Prospect Elementary District 57, said Thursday night. "It's a very cumbersome test to take. I don't think it measures what its supposed to be measuring I think we can find a better assessment and use our instructional time in a much better way."

PARCC exams were plagued by opposition since they were first implemented, with educators complaining they were too time consuming and didn't provide accurate data about students' performance. In the first year of their use, more than 20,000 students in Illinois opted out of taking them -- more than 10 times the amount that refused to take the previous standardized test, the ISAT. And just a year after they began, state education officials decided to discontinue PARCC exams for Illinois high schoolers, instead paying for those students to take the college entrance exam known as the SAT.

Details about what the tests will be replaced with weren't immediately clear, and officials from the Illinois State Board of Education couldn't be reached for comment Thursday night.

Many educators complained the tests -- which showed more than 70 percent of suburban students weren't prepared for college -- were inaccurate because they painted an incomplete picture of how students are performing.

Marc Tepper, board president of Kildeer Countryside Elementary District 96, however, said he felt PARCC was an improvement over previous standardized tests, which he said gave inconsistent results.

"PARCC gave us a much better idea of how our kids were doing, and also how other kids were doing in the state of Illinois in the rest of the United States," Tepper said.

While Tepper acknowledged PARCC can be unduly time-consuming, he said it produces data that can provide useful insight when combined with other information about students' academic proficiency.

"It was an indicator that we were able to use to gauge how our kids were doing," Tepper said. "If you ... use it with other info throughout the year on students, it makes a better district. It's just one piece of data in a world where we have a ton of data."

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