How does a PARCC test session impact the school day? An hour-long test session can result in several hours of lost instructional time.
For middle school students, the PARCC test consists of nine sessions, which vary in length. Though actual testing time lasts no more than 90 minutes per session, the impact on the day’s schedule is dramatic. One middle school teacher in Prince George’s County has painted a picture of a typical day of PARCC testing.
On the day described in this post, the teacher is assigned to proctor a room full of 8th graders who are taking a 60 minute PARCC session. Note that for each middle school grade level, this scenario is repeated on 27 different days — nine times for each grade level. (In a previous post, we published the testing schedule for the middle school described here.)
This middle school has enough computers to divide the eighth grade into two testing groups. Half will take the test in the morning, while the other half wait in their assigned proctors’ classrooms. After lunch, they switch: The morning group waits in their assigned proctors’ classrooms while the other group takes the test. They go to their regular classes at 2:00, after everyone has finished taking the test.
A Proctor’s Schedule for One Day of 8th Grade PARCC Testing
8:30 – Teachers’ contractual day begins with planning: make testing seating chart, write students’ names on sticky notes to label computers, pick up testing materials from Testing Coordinator, begin creating quiz for later this week.
9:15 – Students arrive.
9:20 – Homeroom announcements begin. Take attendance.
9:30 – Take students to the restroom.
9:45 – Students move to testing locations.
9:50 – Start computers; seat students; collect cell phones; distribute scrap paper, clipboards, and pencils.
10:00 – Begin to read directions; pass out student testing tickets; students start logging in.
10:05 – Technical problems begin (computer is missing a mouse, computer isn’t connected to internet, computer needs Java updates).
10:20 – Testing begins to run smoothly with only occasional technical problems.
10:50 – Students take a stand/stretch break; distribute life savers.
11:20 – Test is completed; collect scrap paper, clipboards, and pencils; return cell phones.
11:30 – Students return to proctor’s classroom where they talk, listen to music, or play on the computer.
12:15 – Students go to lunch. Return testing materials to Testing Coordinator. Eat lunch.
12:50 – Pick students up from lunch.
12:55 – Students return to proctor’s classroom where they talk while completing basic math puzzles, reading packets, social studies readings, and/or Sudoku puzzles while the rest of the eighth grade finishes testing.
2:00 – Students move to 4th mod. Many teachers are showing movies or doing other busy-work.
2:35 – Students move to 5th mod. This is the students’ elective class so most classes proceed as normal.
3:45 – Afternoon announcements begin.
3:50 – Students are dismissed.
4:00 – Buses leave and teachers’ contractual day ends.
Note the testing environment pictured in the photograph above. There are 40 students testing in one classroom at one time. If one student’s foot hits the extension cord, the entire row will go out. This has happened during testing. The cables can be dangerous and distracting. The 51 computers in this classroom were purchased solely for PARCC testing. They are set up in the ELL teacher’s classroom; consequently, the teacher and his students are displaced for the duration of testing.
On days that eighth graders are assigned to take the PARCC, the 6th and 7th graders go to their regular classes. Overall, this schedule is designed to impact the other grades who aren’t testing as little as possible. Sixth and seventh graders have a regular school day except for the following modifications:
- some hallways/stairs/restrooms are closed off to try to keep noise levels minimal near testing locations
- for the sake of noise control, students have to be walked to lunch instead of moving through the hallways themselves
- students/classes cannot use the library
- students/classes cannot use the computer lab
- English Language Learners cannot use their classroom, because test-takers need to use the computers in the ELL classroom
- some classes are missing their special education co-teacher, because that teacher is proctoring an exam