PARCC test results a mixed bag

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test results are in, and they are all over the board for area school districts.

While the old ISAT annual tests regularly showed 90 to 95 percent of students meeting standards, PARCC test results ranged from 16 to 68.5 percent of students at area schools meeting or exceeding the Common Core standards last year, which was the first year the test was administered.

Waterloo High School ninth graders scored 68.5 percent, the highest of any school in Monroe, St. Clair and Madison counties. The district as a whole scored 57. The test was administered to grades three through nine.

Valmeyer School District had the second highest scores in the district, with the high school and junior high schools each scoring 61 and an overall district score of 41.

Columbia High School scored 36, and the district as a whole scored 50. The highest scoring school in the district was Parkview Elementary School with 56.

Dupo School District scored 24, and the junior high school had the highest individual score at 27.

“These results should not be used to label any student or school as failing or inadequate. We encourage school districts to take this year’s scores at face value and look for ways to improve areas where scores are not meeting expectations,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Next year, the 2016 scores will be available sooner and will be to track progress from this baseline year.”

The state average for all schools was 33.

PARCC replaced the ISAT/PSAE tests administered in the schools, and was conducted on both computers and paper rather than just the typical pencil and paper format. PARCC reviews English language arts and math with five levels of success: exceeds, meets, approaching, partially meets or did not meet standards.

It differs from the standard multiple choice test in that it is performance-based and determines how the test-takers arrived at their answers with emphasis on critical thinking and writing. Additionally, districts tested students of varying grade levels.

Waterloo School District Curriculum Director John Schmeig said his district’s scores were the result of years of work put in by math and English language arts teachers revising curricula and teaching strategies to align with the standards.

“We started teaching to the standards in classrooms two to three years ago in some form,” Schmeig said.

Columbia School Superintendent Gina Segobiano was also pleased with her district’s results.

“A lot of variables come into play this first round of testing (new test, new standards, first ever computer based assessment), but I am happy that Columbia students scored above the state and PARCC average using the computerized test,” she said. “Observing our third graders manipulate the mouse to move from page to page and pull and drag an answer was a new experience.”

Columbia administered the test to all students in third through eighth grades, and high school students of all levels who were enrolled in Algebra 2 or English 3, and all using the computer-based test, according to Segobiano.

Nearly 75 percent of students across the state took the PARCC test online. ISBE expects proficiency levels to increase as both students and teachers become more familiar with the higher standards and the test’s technology, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.

“Online is the best option for all schools because we can get results much quicker and make changes to the curriculum much quicker,” Schmeig added.

But in the meantime, neither Schmeig nor Segobiano want to minimize the accomplishments of their districts and students.

“There is more work to do but we did very well because we did very, very hard work from kindergarten through 12th grade,” he said.

Segobiano agreed.

“Our teachers have done a great job implementing the new Common Core State Standards and will use the PARCC results as a baseline score to show student growth in the future,” she said.

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Andrea F.D. Saathoff

Andrea is a graduate of Gibault High School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the University of Missouri Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Education. She lives in Columbia with her husband and their twin toddler sons. When she isn't cheering on St. Louis Cardinals baseball or riding the emotional roller coaster of Mizzou Tigers football, she enjoys attending and participating in the many family events the county has to offer. email:
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