PARCC Test Proves to be Difficult

Last year’s PARCC scores for Chaparral High School varied from grade to grade. The freshman scores suggested that most of them would not have passed their eighth grade year. Opposed to the juniors, where two thirds of them flourished in language arts, but not so much in mathematics. Is this suggesting that students are not smart enough? Are teachers being too lenient with their grading and expectations?

The purpose of PARCC is to measure the progress of students and help establish a base. This helps schools and more specifically certain grade levels to focus on what students are struggling with. Peggy McLeod, Deputy Vice President, Education and Workforce Development, for National Council of La Raza says, “It is important to remember that these new assessments are testing students at a higher level, and their results are a new baseline from which scores will likely rise.”

This “higher level” test proved to be too much for a majority of Lobo students. About three fourths of the class of 2018, did not pass either the ELA or Algebra 1 PARCC exam. That would be terrible right?  Only about one fourth of that freshman class was prepared for the test, the rest must have been surprised. Now we are back to the problem at hand. Is it the students or the teachers fault for the results?

Some teachers anticipated last year’s scores like Jerry Appel, English 1 teacher said, “The scores were what I expected…The cut-off score for passing was set to the equivalent of the 80 percentile score on the SAT.” Other teachers were surprised. For example, Blanca Ortega, English 1 teacher, said, “I feel in a way … disappointed … it leaves us a lot of room for improvement.” It seems to be that some teachers did not have high hopes for these students or with the way they performed on the test.

The administration did not have high hopes for the students either. Mark Rupcich, principal at Chaparral high School said, “I was very disappointed, but I anticipated it was going to happen. My biggest fear was that the students would not take the test seriously.”  When I asked him what he thought accounted for the poor scores he said, “I don’t think the students took is seriously.” His biggest fear became a reality.

Schools receive a grade from the New Mexico Public Education Department. Of which they grade schools on current standing, school growth, opportunity to learn and many other criteria. The school received a “D” level grade according to NMPED the school acquired a total score of 39.68 of 100 points possible, which missed an “F” by about two points. It isn’t based on traditional grading system where anything below a sixty fails. Gadsden ISD has provided the school with a new goal of 62.5 or greater, this would bring the school to level “C” . Other high schools were not too far off from Chaparral high school. Gadsden high school also received a level “D” grade report, Santa Teresa managed to acquire a “C” These scores come from,

There is a saying, “What you score on a test doesn’t reveal your true potential.” Let us hope that this is true for Chaparral high school since part of the criteria for the school’s grade has to do with the student’s scores on the PARCC test. On the other side the test is meant for helping students improve. The test does help improve students scores by telling teachers what they need to focus on. “It gives them results of where students failed in 4 or 5 areas,” said Campus Test Coordinator and Assistant Principal Sophia Payen.  We will find out if teachers and students cooperated to improve themselves and as a whole for the school.