As we conclude week one of field-testing the PARCC online assessments with students across our district we would like to share some thoughts from the experience. Before getting into the actual test itself, we need to reiterate a point that we make quite often regarding our phenomenal staff and students. The professionalism of our staff and patience and determination of our students during the glitches that were encountered as we began this new process were second to none. In addition, we are thankful for our amazingly talented IT staff which put in countless hours in the weeks leading up to testing and at the end of each day to ensure that things would go as smooth as possible for our teachers and students.
In regards to how many students we tested this week, we conducted about 3,500 sessions involving over 1,800 students in grades 3 thru 7 and grades 9 and 10. In many cases, students took multiple test sessions this week, completing two math sessions and at least one of the three ELA sessions. During this process, we had students complete PARCC field testing on iPads, Chromebooks, and in computer labs on desktop computers.
As we expected, Burlington’s technology performed extremely well. Our most common hangups were frozen screens which needed a reset of the device. In instances where there were bigger issues, we were able to get in contact with both Pearson and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and maintain an ongoing dialogue with them about issues and improvements. These conversations led to testing environments that saw far fewer technological problems with each passing day.
PARCC field-testing will continue at most schools through next week and we will continue to provide updates as we proceed through the schedule. Please remember that our intentions for taking on this endeavor are two-fold. First, we would like to provide our students with an online experience that will help them prepare for the future which will certainly include some form of online, high-stakes testing. Second, we are able to provide first-hand feedback to the Massachusetts DESE, PARCC, and Pearson that will help improve future versions of these assessments which will eventually be given to every student in the state.