PARCC score breakdown by race released

Anna Dueholm

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Wilson saw a slight improvement in PARCC scores last school year. Score reports, separated by race, were recently released by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).

PARCC tests serve as an evaluation of math and English language arts (ELA) skills for freshmen and sophomores, giving each student a score on a five-point scale. While these scores do not impact students’ grades or appear on their transcripts, they are used by school staff and OSSE.

Teachers are among the most heavily impacted by PARCC scores, as they are factored into their evaluations at the end of each year. “The largest percentage of our score comes from our PARCC scores. They’re 35 percent of our evaluation. Whatever comes back over the summer is then factored into my overall score to determine how ‘effective’ I am,” English teacher Natalie Zuravleff said. High PARCC scores could boost teachers’ ratings and earn them a bonus, while low scores could lower their ratings and hurt their career prospects. Similarly, the scores are used to help determine OSSE’s rating of the school. “It is a combination of graduation rate, matriculation rate, and how many kids report to the colleges that they’ve been accepted to. And then of course PARCC scores as well,” Principal Kimberly Martin said. School officials also use the racial breakdown of scores to monitor the achievement gap at Wilson. 

Overall, Wilson’s PARCC scores increased last year. ELA scores of five increased by four percent and math scores of five by one percent. Hispanic and white students’ scores increased across the board, while Asian students’ math scores revealed a decrease in level one scores, but also in level five scores by ten percent. Martin was baffled by this and noted that this group was a target group for increases last year. “They had a significant achievement gap identified, so that is going to hurt us on our OSSE rating this year,” she said. Black students’ level five scores increased, but so did their level one scores. As such, the achievement gap is an issue that Martin continues to work to improve with initiatives such as Honors for All. 

Martin attributes the overall increase in scores to the rigorous instruction provided by teachers and largely credits the department chairs and instructional coaches. “The teachers who are not performing well and are not using rigorous instruction are outliers, and they’re identified pretty quickly in their department,” she said. Zuravleff agrees that standards are high at Wilson. I think that our curriculum is rigorous, and I do think that Honors for All makes a difference,” she said. 

While she was happy with the increases, Martin was hoping for higher scores. “I am aware that the only people who have skin in the game are teachers and central office. Kids don’t have any skin in the game, so sadly I’m not sure that PARCC is a true measure of what students know or are able to do…I wouldn’t say that all students sit in front of the computer when they’re taking their PARCC and are giving their 100 percent level best,” she said. 

To encourage students to take the tests more seriously, OSSE is contemplating including the scores on students’ transcripts. “Even just that one act of putting it on the transcript that’s sent to colleges they thought would be something that would encourage students to take [PARCC] more seriously because there would be some record of how they did,” Martin said. While this step is being debated, it is currently far from being implemented.