PARCC Disrupts Learning



Today marked the first day of PARCC testing which has required the school to completely rearrange the schedule, in order to allow all ninth and tenth graders to be tested. I am against standardized testing for a long list of reasons. On the top of that list is that standardized tests take away from valuable instructional time to allow students to spend hours filling in bubbles. After I finished DC CAS in tenth grade I was beyond relieved because I believed I would never have to think about DCPS based standardized testing after 7 years of it.

Unfortunately, this year in order to allow ninth and tenth graders to take the new PARCC exam, DCPS has forced Wilson to rearrange its entire class schedule, not for a day, or a week, but an entire month, and not just for those who are being tested, but for everyone. Not only are class times changed but the whole schedule is flipped certain days, having what are normally morning classes in the afternoon and vise versa. This may not seem like a huge deal, but it is confusing and distracting to both students and teachers. Wilson already has a huge absence and tardiness problem without flipping the schedule on everyone.

For teachers, the modified schedule means planning lessons for class periods three times the normal length, while having others that are twenty minutes shorter. For students it means sitting through lessons three times the normal length. On top of that many seniors who have jobs, internships, or other commitments during their afternoon free periods have been left in the lurch.

All of this is not to mention that during PARCC testing (the entire month of March) students and teachers will have “limited access” to the internet in the classroom, so that the internet can be siphoned off to those who need it for testing. This comes just weeks after DCPS hindered teachers access to the internet with no notice through the addition of new internet blocks.

A frustrating element of the change in schedule for both teachers and students was the lack of notice. Teachers were informed of the new schedule barely two weeks ago, and students found out soon after. The change in schedule was a response by the Wilson administration to address the fact that the testing students need an hour and forty-five minutes in the morning, and to make sure that all classes meet for relatively similar amounts of time in March. While the schedule might have been the best option given the circumstances, both students and teachers deserved more than two weeks to accommodate for the change. The schedule change was also communicated poorly. Some students found out from teachers, others by word of mouth from other students, and no one seemed entirely clear on how the schedule would work.

This seems like another in a series of examples of a lack of communication between DCPS and the Wilson administration, as well as between the Wilson administration and students and teachers.

Ultimately, this  change in schedule might not be such a bad thing if it were to accommodate for something that would enhance students education. But as someone who has spent close to the last decade of my life doing DCPS standardized tests, not to mention PSATs, SATs, and APs, I can confidently say that standardized testing has not added anything meaningful to my education.