December 16, 2014
The Common Core State Standards and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers are the topic of many conversations in education today. The following information is a related, progress update within Hopewell Valley Regional School District regarding these two initiatives.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS) – It is important to note that the CCSS is not a national curriculum, but a set of standards for students that were adopted by forty-three states, including New Jersey. Fortunately, in New Jersey and in Hopewell Valley Regional School District, the CCSS standards support the expectations we already have in place. Independent of the CCSS, our district has been evolving to a more student-centered model where learners are actively participating in their instruction. Our updated teaching practices naturally align with the CCSS emphasis on 21st century skills; such as, critical thinking and independent problem solving. Our efforts have positioned us well for the CCSS initiative. More information is available at: http://www.corestandards.org/
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a new, annual assessment in English-Language Arts and Mathematics that is aligned to the CCSS. The State of New Jersey will administer the PARCC this spring to all students in Grades 3 through 11. This will replace the NJ ASK. The 4th and 8th grade Science and the high school Biology end-of-year assessments will remain for the foreseeable future.
As you may know, the PARCC will be administered on-line and the question format will be different from the NJ ASK. Fortunately, many of our students and staff participated in the PARCC pilot last year and/or participated in the PARCC question development with researchers from ETS. Prior to the PARCC administration, we will prepare students to ensure they can navigate the on-line program and new test format. After the winter break, we will provide an informational session at each school. In the interim, you can find details regarding the PARCC at: http://www.parcconline.org/
In closing, I empathize with those who feel that the current framework of accountability requires testing our students more than we desire. While the efficiency of testing so often can be debated, I am hopeful that this new assessment will give us insight into our district’s performance and how we perform against those within New Jersey and other participating states.
As always, we remain committed to our tradition of developing socially conscience, well-rounded students who are not only strong academically, but are also exposed to a wealth of extra- and co-curricular offerings.
Thomas A. Smith, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Hopewell Valley Regional School District