PARCC Testing in a Prince George’s County High School

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about how today’s standardized testing schedules can impact student morale and classroom instruction. However, the problem goes deeper than just the individual student or even classroom. The following is one teacher’s account of how testing works at her local Prince George’s County High School. Individual schools may vary in how they schedule state-mandated exams.

classroomTeaching schedules can affect many more students than just the ones being tested at any given time. Teachers can be assigned to tasks outside the classroom even while their students are not being tested. And because classrooms at the high school level are not necessarily segregated by grade, some students in a given class may be tested while others aren’t. During that time, a teacher has to determine the best way to make sure all her students are being presented with the same material.

It’s a pretty complicated process, so let’s start with an explanation of what could happen with the students and the teachers, and the exams they might be taking.

Students – Show up to assigned test. This may be in the morning or the afternoon. Any time the student is not assigned to testing, the student should proceed with their normal schedule. However, this is not always possible, because of teacher proctor assignments.

Teachers – Each teacher gets assigned either to proctor an exam, or to supervise the students of the proctoring teacher. All students of the proctoring teachers and the supervising teachers go to the auditorium to watch movies if they are not testing. Usually, a teacher’s proctoring duty lasts nearly all day: she supervises two shifts of students taking tests.

The Exams – Possible exams include the Algebra I PARCC, Geometry PARCC, Algebra II PARCC, English 9 PARCC, English 10 PARCC, English 11 PARCC and the Biology HSA and Government HSA. Since some tests are done by grade and others by course level, not all students in a classroom will be given the same exam at the same time.

The students at my school have an eight period schedule. Each of these periods is 45 minutes, with one of those periods being lunch. Typically students taking test that day will have those tests in the first 4 periods of the day, followed by lunch, and then will follow their regular schedule for the remaining three periods. However, if their teacher is assigned to proctor other students while they’re testing, or to supervise students whose teacher is proctoring, they will be sent to the auditorium. This means up to three classrooms may be affected for each testing period. In addition to this, because the classes aren’t segregated by grade, you may have half the students in a classroom testing while the remainder stay in class. Because a teacher may then choose not to cover new material while some students are missing, this can result in further lost instructional time.

Putting all of this together, in order to determine how much total instructional time a student might miss due to testing, you have to consider the duties of their teachers along with the actual time spent testing. In addition to this, because classrooms aren’t segregated by grade, some students may be testing while other students are in class. This can also lead to lost instructional time depending on how the teacher chooses to ensure all students receive the same material.

With eight potential exams, each exam resulting in as many as three classrooms affected, the time lost to these exams can really add up over four years of high school. This puts an undue burden not only on the students who are losing instructional time, but on the teachers who have to balance the needs of their students with their own proctoring and supervising schedules.

One thought on “PARCC Testing in a Prince George’s County High School

  1. yellowsmiley15 says:

    And I thought it was complicated and a time sink in a middle school! PARCC has so many implications that I don’t think were considered when it was implemented.


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