Friday, November 21, 2014

Teach Plus PARCC

PARCC Test Road Show at UNO Charter School
By Jim Vail

Teach Plus hosted a seminar on the PARCC Exam.
Teach Plus, an organization funded by the Gates Foundation which claims its mission is to add the teacher's voice to education reform, hosted a meeting with teachers to get their feedback on the upcoming PARCC Test this past Wednesday, Nov. 19, at the UNO Tamayo Charter School.

The meeting began with the UNO Charter "director" claiming he has turned around this UNO school that went from "one of the worst scoring schools" to "the best scoring school." 

No specifics were provided, such as the best of what? Recent data has shown public schools outscore the charter schools.

Joshua Coffman, the director of Teach Plus Chicago office, told the teachers that "we want to add your voice to the PARCC exams and assessments."

He then provided a power point presentation to show how the Common Core curriculum and the PARCC assessment are far superior to its predecessors in terms of rigor.

It appears the Gates Foundation and other education reform backers are now paying teachers to attend seminars and conferences on the PARCC test as the criticism heats up around the country.

Teach Plus is comprised of a teaching fellows program to nurture new teachers, hosts network events, helps teachers implement the Common Core and features a teacher turnaround team called T3, Coffman told over 100 teachers.

Coffman said they helped with the teachers contract in Indianapolis because "the union was too weak."

They said the Common Core was designed because there were inconsistent state standards, a push to complete college because only 30% of those enrolled graduate and the need for new assessments.

We heard once again how the traditional assessments placed little value on text complexity, while rarely asking for text evidence.

One of the examples on the overhead showed to the teachers was a question about opinion. The old test asked the student to identify an opinion, while the PARCC test assumes the student knows what an opinion is who then must synthesize an opinion to determine how it affects a certain outcome.

Demanding and rigorous? Indeed!

One teacher remarked, "These are great questions for higher level students."

The PARCC writing prompts now demand that students incorporate sources into the writing rather than writing a simple argumentative essay, for example, that relied on the student's own knowledge.

During the feedback time, teachers then took the mic to complain about the test that many would like to see delayed, or dismissed all together.

The first teacher said the stories are divorced from meaning and so preparing for these demanding tests makes her students hate reading.

Another teacher said questions broken into two parts are vaguely written and confusing to understand.

One teacher asked how can this test possibly help special education (diverse learners is the new lingo) and bilingual students.

Another teacher said the technology needs to be taught to the students on how to take the exam; for example, not being able to find the right key to go back to the story is very problematic. 

A high school teacher noted that they have been training students to take the ACT test for so long, and now have only 24 months to teach the PARCC Test while there is still lots of confusion.

Another asked, what if the computer freezes? Will this affect the children's test?

While Teach Plus's goal may have been to promote the Common Core and its assessment the PARCC exam, they certainly got an earful of negative feedback on this new test that will rock the schools once it rolls out.

No comments:

Post a Comment