Mar 31, 2014

Practice Tests Done One Year in Advance Allows Students to Try Out Questions

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education announced today that more than 15,000 Louisiana students in grades 3-11 successfully completed the first week of the PARCC field testing, allowing a “dry run” for schools and students one year in advance of the state’s move toward standards and tests that keep Louisiana competitive with states across the country. The three-week field test is part of a two-year period of increased time to learn the new academic expectations for administrators, teachers, parents, and students. After the two-year period, the state will gradually raise accountability expectations through the year 2025 when the new expectations will take full effect.

“The field test allows our state the chance to see that we are ready to take the next step and raise the bar, a full year in advance,” said State Superintendent of Education John White.  “It allows Louisiana administrators the chance to test their technology and Louisiana students the chance to try out new questions. Never before has our state had this amount of time and input in preparing for a test.”

Louisiana developed the PARCC test alongside 16 other states to measure the academic achievement of Louisiana students in comparison to others across the country. Louisiana educators have been involved in test development, including item reviews and policy making. In 2014-2015, students in grades 3-4 will take the PARCC assessments on paper, while students in grades 5-8 will take online tests. 

The test moves away from the predominant LEAP style multiple choice questions, requiring more writing, more critical thinking, and greater demand for students to show their reasoning and logic as they arrive at answers.

As we raise expectations, the Department recognizes educators need time to learn these new standards and the associated assessments. As such, a new set of policies are in place during this time of transition. This transition to higher expectations, developed during dozens of meetings over months of engagement, represents the work of educators, parents, and other stakeholders across the state.  These transition policies address:

  • Letter Grades: For 2013-14 and 2014-15, the distribution of letter grades will be held constant.  Only after a new baseline of accountability results is established will the state slowly raise the threshold for letter grades, so that by 2025 an A-rated school will average 4 out of 5, or “mastery”, on state tests.


  • Value-Added: For 2014 and 2015, the state will not produce “value-added data” as tests are changing from one year to the next.  The state will provide districts with transitional growth data, but there will be no requirement value-added data be used in Compass ratings in 2014 and 2015.


  • Student Promotion: In 2014 and 2015, the state will maintain the current 4th grade policy but allow districts to issue waivers for students demonstrating readiness to progress. The state will shift the 8th grade retention standard to be a remedial standard and require that remediation take place on the high school campus in a “transitional 9th grade” year.


  • Curriculum: The state is producing a Louisiana Curriculum Guidebook for English Language Arts and math in grades kindergarten through 12.  This curriculum approach provides educators the content and tools they need in order to plan years, units, and lessons that help students grow, learn, and achieve.


  • Technology: Students in grades 3 and 4 will take pencil and paper tests in 2015 while those in grades 5 through 8 will take online tests.  If specific schools serving grades 5 through 8 are unable to demonstrate technology readiness status, the state will grant one-year exemptions for 2015.  Starting in 2016, tests will be administered online for all students.

Prior to week one of the field test, the Department provided increased and intensive support to districts.  The Department hosted six regional hands-on training sessions with district test coordinators and technology coordinators to better prepare them to administer the assessments.  The Department also held four technology training sessions statewide leading up to the practice run. Additionally, the department held 21 one-on-one technical support sessions for districts requesting assistance.  The Department also established a support hotline for district staff.  A team of support specialists can be reached at 1-800-223-2950 during the field test window from 6:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For more information on the PARCC assessments, please click here.

To try out sample test questions using the same online format students will use to take the test, as well as view online tutorials demonstrating the tools available to students, please click here.

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