By Catherine Gewertz
New tests being designed for students in nearly half the states will take eight to 10 hours, depending on grade level, according to guidance released last week.
The new information comes from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College
and Careers, or PARCC
, one of the two big groups of states that are building tests in mathematics and English/language arts for the Common Core State Standards
The guidance answers one of the big questions that had been hanging over the tests: Given their promises to measure students’ skills in a deeper, more nuanced way, partly through the use of extended performance tasks, just how long will the tests take?
The other group of states designing tests, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, has already come out with time estimates for its tests. Students in those 24 states will face testing times of seven to 8.5 hours. Now that PARCC has issued its test-time projections, educators in 22 other states and the District of Columbia know how much time students will need to take those exams.
In a flurry of documents issued March 5, PARCC defined not only the time needed to take the math and English/language arts tests, but also the window of time available to administer them.
Schools and districts will have 20 days to give the PARCC performance-based assessment, which occurs after about three-quarters of the school
year and focuses on more in-depth, extended exercises. They will have another 20-day window to administer the end-of-year computer-based component, which occurs after 90 percent of the year. Those two components will make up a student’s summative score.
In addition, the consortium released an online planning tool that schools and districts can use to gauge their technological capacity to administer the computer-based tests.
The heart of PARCC’s information about testing times and windows is contained in its“guidance” document
. Among the key highlights of its testing plan are:
English/language arts: Three tasks will be assigned, for which students will have to read one or more texts, answer several short comprehension and vocabulary questions, and write an essay based on evidence from what they read. The three tasks will be a research simulation, a literary analysis, and a narrative task.
Math: Each grade level will have short and extended-response questions focused on conceptual knowledge and skills as well as the math practices of reasoning and modeling.
English/language arts: Students will read four to five texts, both literary and informational, and respond to short-answer comprehension and vocabulary questions for each.
Math: It will be composed primarily of short-answer questions focused on conceptual knowledge, skills, and understandings.
Testing Sesions: Nine total
English/language arts: Three sessions for the performance-based component, two for the end-of-year one.
Math: Two sessions for the performance-based component, two for the end-of-year part.
via Education Week: Common-Core Tests to Take Up to 10 Hours.