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Initial results of PARCC tests reveal students in Illinois failing to meet achievement standards

by Sharita Forrest / Oct 19, 2015

Professor Sarah McCarthey

Education professor recommends caution before jumping to conclusions on PARCC, which aligns with Common Core Standards

The Illinois State Board of Education recently released preliminary results of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), the standardized achievement tests that were administered for the first time to Illinois schoolchildren last spring. Preliminary results indicated that large numbers of Illinois students failed to meet achievement standards in math or English language arts and literacy.

Sarah McCarthey, a professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, said the public should be cautious before drawing generalized conclusions, however.

“The significant content change, the challenges of students using computers, and the many logistical problems caused by so many students taking tests at the same time should give us pause,” said McCarthey, the director of teacher education at the University of Illinois.

McCarthey nonetheless said that the PARCC’s focus on critical-thinking skills, or the interpretation of text rather than literal comprehension of it, and the requirement to write an extensive analysis of more than one text, indicate higher learning standards that should be striven for.

Read the full “A Minute With …” conversation with Sarah McCarthey.