In the spring of the 2014-2015 school year, students in New Mexico will take the PARCC assessment for the first time.This test will replace the New Mexico Standards Based Assessment or NMSBA.The NMSBA is currently used to assign grades to schools and can be used to determine whether or not a student receives a high school diploma. The only portion of the NMSBA that will remain in 2014-2015 is the science assessment.

The PARCC assessment has been developed as a means to assist students, educators and parents in determining whether or not a student is on track to be successful in college. PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) is a consortium of 19 states that have collaborated to develop common assessments that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

The test is an online format and schools have been told that it will take slightly less time than the NMSBA. In addition, administrators have been assured that we will receive more timely feedback on the results of the test, although the first testing cycle will incur a longer than usual response as the scores are analyzed.

The PARCC assessment consists of two components – one in March and one in April.The first component is a performance based assessment that will occur in March. This test is designed to incorporate analysis, critical thinking and problem solving. Students will be asked to write extended responses in Language Arts and Mathematics. In April they will take the second part of the assessment which is the End of Year component. For this test they will demonstrate their knowledge of acquired skills on a multiple choice, machine scored type of assessment.

One of the changes that will take place with the advent of PARCC is that 9th, 10th and 11th graders will all be tested, whereas the NMSBA was given to 10th and 11th graders only.There are many questions still to be answered – including which specific math skills will be assessed at each grade level and what cut scores will be used in determining proficiency and graduation requirements.

EMHS will be helping students prepare for this new wave of testing in several ways.In the classroom, teachers will be posing more questions that require a deeper level of analysis, thought and reflection.Teachers are using the Common Core State Standards in their planning and lesson execution.In addition, we will be having students work on practice questions that have been released.

One of the ways that parents can be informed is to visit the PARCC website at http://www.parcconline.org/.This site houses valuable information for students, parents and educators. Prominent on the home page is a place for students to access a practice test.It would be a wonderful idea for students and parents to try some of the practice items together. This would give parents valuable insight into what the test questions will be like.There is also a resource tab that contains materials specifically for parents.

This will be a new experience for all of us.We are going to try our best to ensure that students at EMHS are ready to meet this challenge.