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Mineola Superintendent Discusses PARCC Assessment

New assessment may replace Regents Exam; but not now

Not too long ago, high school students had a choice between a local diploma and a Regents diploma. The local degree was done away with, making way for the choice of a Regents or an Advanced Regents diploma. If a new assessment is instituted, New York being one of the test states, the Regents Exam could be done away with altogether.

Mineola School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler profiled PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) during the workshop meeting on Nov. 3. PARCC is a consortium of states working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math anchored in “what it takes to be ready for college and careers.”

These new K-12 assessments would mark students’ progress toward college from third grade up, and reportedly provide teachers with information to inform instruction and provide student support. The PARCC assessments will be ready for states to administer in 2014, according to Nagler.

PARCC received a $186 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top assessment competition to support the development of a “next-generation assessment system.”

Approximately 42 states adopted the common core (national) curriculum, while 24 will use PARCC. Nagler said this is the closest this country has come to a national curriculum.

States that won the “Race to the Top” money, New York, Florida, among others, were tasked to make a test that lines up with the new common core, which makes those 42 states use the same assessment…a national test.

“We’ve never had this,” Nagler said. “This goes back to the constitution. That’s one of the rights of states; education in their state. This assessment that’s coming is something we’ve never seen.”

This test is taken via computer and “walks students through a real-life problem and makes students use the content learned to solve the problem,” according to Nagler.

The assessment would be taken on the same day in all states chosen. This school year will be the last year of the old assessment, according to Nagler. Next year will detail the common core.

“The exam will match the common core,” he said. “Our plan is to have the common core in place by next year. The year after that would be the PARCC assessment.”

What’s to be done with the Regents? Nagler said that if all the states New York is collaborating with have the same assessment, “How can New York have a different test than everyone else?

“The last thing I heard in my last conference is that New York students will definitely take the PARCC, they may take the Regents or the Regents may go away,” Nagler said.

Nagler said one of the issues with New York State is the exams cost money. The cost of the Regents has been the subject of much controversy over the last year.

“Mineola is trying to stay ahead of the curve,” he said. “The initiatives we’re doing with the iPad’s and Netbooks lead to preparing our students for the PARCC.”

Nagler concluded that the fate of the Regents has not been decided. Furthermore, until New York State says otherwise, the Regents is the official exam.

“Let me just state this now, the fate of the Regents has not been decided,” he said. “There will be a Regents until [the State] says otherwise, but as of right now, whatever they do, they’re going to have to phase it out. They’ll probably have to do the same thing they did 15 years ago when they went to the different exams, phasing it out over three years.”

The PARCC states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee.