Last Thursday, New Mexico's 2018 results on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment came rolling in earlier than ever before.
The results are promising, though highlight how much progress we have yet to go:
Since New Mexico moved to PARCC in 2015, these are our highest results;
Statewide English proficiency is 31.1 percent while math is 21.6 percent;
In every grade and subject (save 11th math) scores are up;
American Indian students are our fastest growing group; and
The opportunity gap closed a bit with economically disadvantaged, Hispanic, American Indian, and English Learner students demonstrating growth.
Folks locally and nationally get all up in their feelings about PARCC testing, where conversations are more about dogma than logic. The most controversial aspect of PARCC isn't the exam itself (which costs $12/student and takes about 9 hours per school year), but its connection to accountability measures in New Mexico.
In the eyes of those who loathe PARCC, without the standardized assessment, teacher evaluation and school grading go by the way side. Then we'll once again return to the days of not knowing how students are performing or having deep understanding of the inequities that persist. Better to cover our eyes than acknowledge hard realities. So this logic goes.
Distaste for standardized assessments is nothing new. I recall these same rabid critiques for the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITSB) and the Standards-Based Assessment (SBA) way back in my day. What is new, though, is connecting evaluation to how students perform on these exams. While this idea is commonplace is nearly every sector, in public education there remains a fierce desire to disconnect learning outcomes from evaluation.
The reality is that, while imperfect, PARCC is considered by most experts to be the highest quality assessment available today and most focused on critical and strategic thinking. Until a better option exists, New Mexico must maintain the higher, harder road and ask more of our education system.
I'm awaiting additional data on PARCC before doing a more in-depth piece. So, until then, here's a quick roundup of the hullabaloo:
Shelby Perea - "NM, APS PARCC scores up in English, math"
Dawn Bilbrey [teacher] - "Mom and teacher: We should keep PARCC"
Joel Hutchinson [teacher] - ''PARCC helps teachers foster student growth"
Albuquerque Journal - "Editorial: Student gains a strong reason to keep PARCC"
Tony Monfiletto [ex-educator and founder of Leadership High Schools Network] - "Bureaucracy stifles innovation at NM schools"
Las Cruces Sun News - "State celebrates PARCC scores in Gadsden schools"