By Prashant Shankar
Photo by Alexis Rizzi
Since District 204’s school board meeting Jan. 11, the PARCC test scores have been met with controversy due to an achievement gap between black and white students. After speaking to parent representatives, District 204 has promised to take action to improve PARCC scores, but clarify that it may be a little early to jump to conclusions.
Assistant principal Dr. Quynh Harvey believes that one year of testing isn’t an indication of the achievement gap, and that parents and students shouldn’t be alarmed. “I think it’s hard to base our judgement on one year’s worth of data,” Dr. Harvey said. “I think it’s a good baseline for us to start understanding and learning about how our students are performing on assessments such as PARCC. I think if you look at our ACT scores, which have been a pretty consistent foundation for the last decade or so, our students are performing at a high level and are doing pretty well consistently, so my prediction is that our students are going to be able to do fairly well on the PARCC as well over time, based on the development of the tests, how students are prepared, [and] how students are engaged onto the classroom.”
Students agreed that the PARCC’s results were too small a sample size to hold any judgement on when it came to the achievement gap. “To be honest, I don’t think that the PARCC scores hold very valid results only because so many kids were saying ‘Oh this doesn’t really count for anything, it won’t penalize me if I do bad,’” junior Maggie Petersen said. “So lots of kids didn’t really try their best or put all their effort into it, so I don’t think the achievement [gap] scores that we got back are necessarily accurate.”
Most students agree that teachers aren’t to be blamed for the achievement gap on the recent PARCC.
“I don’t think that it’s their fault,” senior Alexis Dowell said. “To be honest, some of the teacher that I’ve had in the past and now [have] been very good at trying to get people to understand the basics and advancing from that.”
Regardless, more is being done by administration to ease parent’s concerns not only on the achievement gap, but on the PARCC in general.
“I think that you have to really look at the big picture, which is that we have taken the last several years to realign our curriculum and instruction, and to provide our teachers professional development on current instructional practices, so a lot of the preparation is really the level of rigor that has been raised in the classroom itself to really get kids engaged, involved, thinking, applying skills is really what’s going to prepare students for the PARCC,” Harvey said.