New high school testing schedule the biggest change for PARCC in Cherry Hill

The district is also making sure parents and students are aware of the new graduation requirements for the current high school freshmen. The new state requirements require students in the Class of 2020 and beyond to take the PARCC assessment.

In a little more than a month, the 2017 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers will begin to be administered across New Jersey.

In Cherry Hill Public Schools, high school students will experience a new PARCC testing schedule, and ninth-grade students will be the first class to be required to take the assessment according to new guidelines from the state Department of Education.

The biggest change with PARCC in Cherry Hill is the new testing schedule for high school students. This year, all high school PARCC testing will be consolidated into a three-day window from March 28 to March 30. On each of those days, students in ninth, 10th and 11th grades will take an English/language arts unit of the test beginning at 7:35 a.m. After the unit is complete, students will have an hour break for lunch. Following lunch, students will take a math unit of the PARCC test.

There will be an early dismissal at 12:50 p.m. on all three days of PARCC testing. Regular classes will not be held on those days.

Superintendent Joe Meloche said the district in the past had PARCC testing take place during regular class days. However, the district had issues with scheduling testing sessions within the regular school schedule.

“None of the periods matched with the amount of time the kids need to test,” Meloche said.

The new schedule will allow PARCC testing to be completed at the high school level without causing interruptions during the normal school day.

“The goal is to have the least amount of disruption of the school environment at both East and West,” Meloche said.

The senior class and other students who do not have to take a PARCC test will participate in alternative programs on those days. The program will revolve around college preparation and life skills. Guest speakers will also speak to the students during those days.

Another major change with PARCC this year affects high school freshmen across the state. For the first time, the state Department of Education is requiring students in the class of 2020 to attempt all PARCC assessments. A passing score on one of the three assessments for both English and math will count as the student’s graduation requirement. If a student does not achieve a passing score on one of the three, but attempted the test each year, the student can then use a score from an SAT, ACT or other qualifying test to meet the graduation requirement.

The district has worked hard to inform parents about the change. The changes have been discussed at community and PTA meetings. The district has also sent emails, newsletters and posted the changes on the district’s website.

Meloche also emphasized the importance of informing parents and students at the middle school level about the changing state requirements. For the class of 2021 and beyond, students will be required to achieve a passing grade on the 10th grade English/language arts PARCC exam and the Algebra I exam. If passing scores are not met, the student can meet the criteria of a state Department of Education portfolio appeal to graduate, but only if he or she attempted PARCC in grades nine, 10 and 11.

The district will follow the same procedure as in previous years for students who wish to refuse the test. Students refusing the test will be placed in alternate locations and will be permitted to read silently or complete independent work. For a student to refuse the test, a parent must submit a notice of refusal in writing to the building principal by March 3.

Meloche said the district is encouraging all students to sit for the PARCC assessment as it has in previous years. While particular emphasis has been put on the high school freshmen because of the state requirements, Meloche said PARCC is one of the many ways students will get a chance to test their knowledge during the school year.

“I think PARCC is an opportunity for our students to show how much they’ve learned,” Meloche said.

The district has purchased a new set of Chromebooks to use for this year’s testing. Meloche said one of the good things about PARCC is the district has had to allocate financial resources to upgrade its technology over the past few years.

“We have been able to dramatically increase the hardware,” Meloche said.

Elementary and middle school testing will take place after spring break. In elementary schools, fifth grade will take the test April 19 through April 25. Fourth grade will test from May 1 through May 8. Third grade will take the exam May 9 through May 15.

Testing will take place from April 19 through April 26 for eighth grade, May 1 through May 9 for seventh grade, and May 10 through May 17 for sixth grade.

Full schedules for the district’s 2017 PARCC testing can be found at www.chclc.org. For a detailed list of New Jersey high school graduation requirements, visit www.state.nj.us/education/assessment/parents/GradReq.pdf.