Parent reports explain student test results
Parents of public school students who took the new standardized state tests last spring will soon be receiving a new kind of report card explaining how their children did compared with their classmates and peers across Colorado.
One requirement of the new Partnership for Assessments in Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) English language arts and math testing program is for local school districts to send a detailed report home to parents in an effort to help them understand their students’ individual results.
The tests were administered from third through 11th grade last school year. Individual student reports should be in parents’ hands by the first of January, according to Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Diana Sirko.
“Please keep in mind that these scores cannot be compared to the old test scores,” Sirko writes in her latest parent newsletter distributed this week.
“The new tests measure different things, such as a student’s ability to think critically and problem solve …” she writes in part. “With the change may come some growing pains, and your child’s score may be lower than what you saw before.”
Instead of measuring students on a scale of four proficiency levels, as the former Colorado Student Assessment Program and transitional tests did, the new PARCC tests measure students as either “below” “nearly meets” “meets” or “exceeds” expectations in English language and math skills.
The tests are based on the new, more rigorous academic standards adopted by Colorado in 2013-14. Math and English, including reading, writing and vocabulary, are measured using the PARCC tests, while science and social studies are tested separately under the new Colorado Measures of Academic Success.
The parent reports show how the district as a whole and their school did at each grade level tested compared with statewide results, as well as the participation rate for each grade level.
Under the PARCC program, parents are allowed to opt their students out of taking the tests.
The reports also show how the individual student stacked up against their classmates, the district and state averages in each performance area.
Each student receives a numerical score and, based on that, is ranked in one of five performance levels, according to an explanation included with the report.
“Level 1 indicates a student is not yet meeting grade level expectations and level 5 indicates the student has a thorough understanding of grade-level material,” it explains.
Students scoring a 4 or 5 “are on track to be ready for college-level coursework when they graduate from high school.”
“The state has done a nice job of giving us more detailed information, and more useful information,” said Rob Stein, assistant superintendent and chief academic officer for RFSD.
“We are now sharing that with students and families and teachers,” he said. “It gives us a whole complement of tools that are helpful for us to actually use the data to help students learn.”
The district urges parents to use the scores and information in conversations with teachers about enrichment programs and other support that can be reinforced at home to help them improve or to stay on track if they are already meeting expectations.
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