Illinois State Board of Education to Revamp PARCC Exams

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The Illinois State Board of Education is planning to transform 3rd to 8th grade state exams, aiming to shorten the tests, get results faster and switch to a format that adjusts the difficulty of test questions.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam has had issues since its launch in 2015, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Scores for the 3rd to 8th grade PARCC exams have been consistently low statewide, with fewer than 40 percent of about 900,000 test-takers able to pass the reading and math exams in 2017.

Criticism from parents and school officials over the test, including how long it takes to complete, have led to an opt-out movement that has kept some students from taking it.

Chicago Public Schools also resisted PARCC testing in 2015 and got into a standoff with the state, which threatened to withhold millions of dollars in funding. The district ultimately relented.

But the state has since pulled the exam from the roster of high school assessments following complaints from administrators who argued the exams took away from instruction.

A. Rae Clementz, ISBE's director of assessment and accountability, said the exams are "obviously going to need to evolve."

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Superintendents and school testing officials said they're glad to see changes to the exams.

ISBE is now seeking bids to create a new "computer adaptive" testing format and modify how exams are scored to ensure results are provided quickly to educators and families, among other potential changes.

Grade schools could see some changes to state exams as early as next spring. However, a final transformation could take longer. Any of the expected changes to the exam won't affect high schools.

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