HomeMt Laurel NewsSchool officials look for input on PARCC at Mt. Laurel School Summit

School officials look for input on PARCC at Mt. Laurel School Summit

It’s coming.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC test, will be administered in all New Jersey public school districts beginning in the 2014–15 school year.

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The Mt. Laurel School District has been preparing for the PARCC through changes in curriculum to align with Common Core standards and upgrading the technology needed to take the test.

However, it was not apparent how many parents and members of the community were aware of the drastic changes about to be undergone in the district.

To provide an open dialogue about PARCC, the school district held a summit on Thursday night at Hartford School. The topic was Common Core standards, PARCC and the effect it will have on education in Mt. Laurel going forward.

Superintendent Antoinette Rath explained to the audience of parents, teachers and community members the transition to PARCC will not be easy. The goal of the summit was to get feedback from participants on how the district should inform the community heading into next year.

The district pointed out the night was not to be a debate about the new standards. Director of Curriculum Sharon Vitella pointed out such a debate would be counterproductive.

“Some of you may not like the PARCC assessment, but as a public school district in the state of New Jersey, we have to administer the assessment,” she said.

Thursday’s discussion touched on two main topics; communication to parents about the test and attendance concerns.

Much of the audience at the summit agreed communication within the school community was a necessity. Many suggested having a PARCC summit at each school, while others suggested having more information through the district newsletter, pamphlets, online and through other mediums.

As far as attendance goes, Rath explained students, especially at the lower levels, were missing too much school and would fall behind in learning the skills they need to succeed at the next level.

“Nearly 50 percent of our kids are absent six or more times a year,” she said.

Rath pointed towards students who are pulled out of school for vacations as one example of students falling behind.

Despite the statistics, some were not sure if there was a way to keep parents from pulling kids out of school. There were some suggestions to offer incentives to kids who attend school frequently, but were others who weren’t sure what the solution may be.

Prior to the parent discussion, Rath took some time to explain why the Common Core standards and PARCC are important to children’s education in the 21st century. With ever-advancing technology, she emphasized the importance for a child to understand material.

“Being able to memorize facts is simply not enough,” she said. “Google can do that for us.”

Though Rath said she is behind a bill in the state legislature to “pump the brakes” on PARCC and allow school districts to ease into the test. As it stands, next year’s PARCC scores will count for all school districts.

The school district gathered suggestions from 12 different tables of participants. Some of the suggestions could be implemented as soon as the coming weeks, while others may be looked at later on. For a full list of some of the suggestions, log on to mtlaurelschools.org.


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