The PARCC assessments are generally tougher than the Smarter Balanced tests, ACT Aspire, and the other tests states are using, according to a think tank analysis.
For, author Gary Phillips, a vice president and fellow at the American Institutes for Research, examined the achievement levels, or cut scores, that are intended to show that students are on track in 4th and 8th grade to be college-ready by the time they graduate from high school. He mapped the cut scores to those used on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP.
PARCC’s Level 4 cut scores, which mean students are on track to be college ready, are comparable in difficulty to the NAEP proficiency level in mathematics at 4th and 8th grades, the AIR study found. But in English/language arts, PARCC’s “on track to college ready” cut scores fall in the NAEP basic range. (NAEP has three achievement levels: basic, proficient, and advanced.)
States’ benchmarks were found to be all over the place; many were set at levels comparable to NAEP’s “below basic” level.
A version of this article appeared in the March 09, 2016 edition of Education Week as Student Testing