Students at Proviso East High School, Proviso West High Schools, and Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy will begin a season of high stakes testing on Tuesday, March 3, when juniors take the ACT college entrance exam.
This year’s testing will be different from years past, however.
The Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) is gone, replaced by the new PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, assessments. The PARCC exams are part of the implementation of the new Common Core Standards that went into effect in the District this school year.
While the District’s students will have two days of standardized testing with the ACT and the WorkKeys assessments on March 3 and 4, respectively, the PARCC exams will be administered during two four-week periods in March and April. There will be four to five test sessions, each taking between 60 and 90 minutes. In addition, only students taking a third-year English course and/or Algebra II will take a PARCC exam this year, said Dr. Diane Deckert, the district’s director of assessment and planning.
The PARCC exam also will be more involved than previous standardized exams. In the past, students were expected to simply answer the questions. Now they could analyze an article that they have read or a video that they have watched. For math problems, they will be expected to give their answers and show how they came to their conclusion.
"For PARCC, students are taking the assessment online, and we want to give them a chance to do well without overwhelming them," Dr. Deckert said. "We’re testing more in depth and giving kids more opportunities to show that they are college and career ready."
The tests still are important for students to take seriously, said Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209.
"Those test scores are for the large part used by the public to judge whether a school is graduating students who are academically proficient," Dr. Collins-Hart said. "With the new PARCC assessments, we are testing students based on the classes that they take, so we know what they have learned and how they have progressed during the year. The score on the ACT also is a permanent part of a student’s record."
A key component of students doing well on tests is parent support. Parents can help students do well on the tests by encouraging them to get plenty of rest before the test, helping them to read 30 minutes of non-fiction per day, making education a priority, and making sure that they understand that with effort, they can achieve.
"Research has shown that students who are encouraged often by parents, family members, teachers, and the community at-large achieve more in the classroom and on standardized tests," Dr. Collins-Hart said. "We are thankful for the parents who actively encourage their students and our schools, and we encourage everyone to do everything that they can to ensure that students do their best on state tests."
Seniors who took the ACT and PSAE last year had similar advice for the students who are taking the tests this year.
Harlan Kuhr, a PMSA senior who earned a 35 on the ACT, recommended students get plenty of rest and eat a good breakfast on the days that they take exams. They also should take practice exams in ACT prep sessions during school and any other time that they can.
"It’s best to get to know the different types of questions that will appear on the test," he said.
Nicholas Stokes, a Proviso East senior, recommended not stressing over the tests and keeping track of time during the exams.
"I recommend doing what the teacher says and don’t answer the questions in order," he said. "Do the ones you know first, and go back and finish the others."
Good luck to all students on the exams!
For a schedule of the ACT/WorkKeys testing on MArch 3 and 4, please click here