New Standardized Test Could Replace ACT

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Everyone’s heard of the ACT and SAT, but students in Illinois are about to become very familiar with the PARCC. It’s a new yearly test for high school students that helps measure their growth over all four years. It’s also a test that could throw traditional lessons for a loop.

The bell rings and students walk in and take their seats. It was a normal day for Michelle Lillis pre-calculus class at Rock Island High School, but there’s going to be some changes made. They won’t affect these students, but current freshman like Evan Wignall.

“I like the Hawkeyes,” says Evan, who one day hopes to go to the University of Iowa and study Biology.

“Something with studying like how creatures involve, maybe how they survive in their habitat,” says Evan.

To get there, he’ll have to study hard, get good grades and do well on standardized test, including a new one coming to Illinois, the PARCC Test. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers will begin in 2014; all students will take it up to three times a year, every year.

“Instead of one single test, one time in a student`s high school career, defining that student on one single test, it will be several tests that can show that a student has grown and has reached some academic achievement levels,” says Michelle.

Michelle, Rocky’s Math Chair says she prefers the new testing system because it doesn’t limit student’s achievements to one test, like the ACT or the SAT does and she hopes one day it replaces them.

"It would be a good opportunity for colleges to see that one day, at one moment in time, isn't what any student really is,” says Michelle.

The test may also force districts to change how they teach math. No more Algebra one year followed by one year of geometry. Teachers would have to integrate all of them together over all four years.

"I think it will absolutely help out with those scores because instead of having those concepts being taught in separate years they will be taught all together and they will progress to higher levels,” says Michelle.

Until that curriculum’s changed, State Ed Leaders expect test scores to be lower for now and that makes students like Evan a little nervous, “Its worries me somewhat cause it`s like more compact stuff so you have to study a little more.”

"It is much more rigorous, it is to a higher standard but for the student the positive aspect of it is that they won't be labeled based on their test, they'll be able to feel good about progressing,” says Michelle.

While PARCC testing is gaining popularity, Illinois is the 23rd state to start it. Most colleges will still require students to take the ACT or SAT before applying.

“Student`s still may possibly have to take ACT um if that does happen they would have to take it on their own which would be a cost to them,” says Michelle.

Evan knows regardless of the test, if he wants to get into college and hopefully get a scholarship, he has to do well, "You have to pass it or get a good grade to go to a good college."

This new test could be a step in the right direction, “College will definitely probably be harder than high school so I think it will help me get ready for the hard stuff."

It hasn’t been determined when colleges will decide if they will accept PARCC testing results for admissions. The state is supposed to decide March 1st if integrated math should be adopted state wide. Whether or not the state approves the Rock Island/ Milan district is currently discussing changing to integrated math.