Out with the old and in with the new: A new way of evaluating our students

   Not only will parents and students be awaiting changes within the Jefferson County Public Schools District, they will need to be on the lookout for nationwide curriculum adjustments. As of August 20, 2012, Colorado joined as the 23rd state member of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). For current Arvada West students, juniors and seniors can expect to dodge the new education initiatives, while freshman and sophomores can expect to see standardized education changes along the way.

   The PARCC will implement a nationwide test that is designed create the next generation of testing in the subject areas of English, language arts, and mathematics. The test itself is not specific to Colorado, rather it is administered through the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which seeks to establish consistent education standards for K-12 students that will readily prepare them for the tools they need to graduate from high school and make a smooth transition into college or the workforce.

   The intent of the standardized curriculum is to make nationwide education standards that are universally acceptable throughout the country. This way a student’s grades and test scores are not solely a representation of his success in that individual system, they represent his academic achievement on an accepted national level. Given that there is a national standard in place, parents and students can expect there to be a more rigorous curriculum since the goal of the Common Core State Standards Initiative is to make students more prepared for their post graduation lives.

   The Common Core State Standards initiative has already been adopted by 39 states nationwide [as pictured below], showing how the nation is on board with creating a national curriculum. Student mobility created an issue with state individualized tests such as the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP). It is estimated that 44% of students switch schools between kindergarten and third grade. When these students move to new schools or new states, the material that they will be learning may not line up with the same level of material they were learning at their old school. By having the same nationwide tests at the same grade levels all throughout the country, PARCC hopes scores can be easily compared across the country rather than having states with their tests that reflect their own priorities.

   Though these changes will not take place overnight, students can expect to see considerable changes by the fall of 2015, when PARCC testing kicks in. The PARCC test will officially be replacing the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP), that was solely used as a transition away from CSAP and into PARCC. When initiated, PARCC will be taken from 3rd to 12th grade, and will be a computer based assessment, a sign of the times in advancing education.