PARCC Practice Exam May Cause a Rage Headache

Photo credit: Cubmundo (CC-By-SA 2.0)
Photo credit: Cubmundo (CC-By-SA 2.0)

Peter Greene, a teacher who writes at Curmudgucation, posted his experience taking a PARCC practice exam.  The final paragraph says it all, but be sure to read his whole article.

Man. I have put this off for a long time because I knew it would give me a rage headache, and I was not wrong. How anybody can claim that the results from a test like this would give us a clear, nuanced picture of student reading skills is beyond my comprehension. Unnecessarily complicated, heavily favoring students who have prior background knowledge, and absolutely demanding that test prep be done with students, this is everything one could want in an inauthentic assessment that provides those of us in the classroom with little or no actual useful data about our students.

If this test came as part of a packaged bunch of materials for my classroom, it would go in the Big Circular File of publishers materials that I never, ever use because they are crap. What a bunch of junk. If you have stuck it out with me here, God bless you. I don’t recommend that you give yourself the full PARCC sample treatment, but I heartily recommend it to every person who declares that these are wonderful tests that will help revolutionize education. Good luck to them as well.

To add to this experience Twitchy posted a video of three high school honors students from Elyria High School (Ohio) trying to take this 6th grade sample math test question from PARCC.

Here’s the question:


Here’s the video of the students.

Here’s the solution:


Twitchy writes:

It isn’t reasonable to expect 12-year olds, many of whom have barely mastered multiplication, to understand that they were supposed to come up with a “modeling process” to project the number of yellow golf balls sold in 2014 based on sales in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Especially since, as the three high school girls in the Youtube video noted, the growth in sales in 2011-2013 is not constant. (Sales decelerated in 2013.)

Agreed!  I especially loved the comment left on YouTube addressing the girls.

Kudos to you kids for actually trying to figure that mess out and doing as well as you did – I’ve got a master’s degree and a background in statistics, probability and quantitative analysis and I thought these questions were challenging (which is corporate speak for badly written crap). I’d like to congratulate you on your problem reasoning skills, though, you three seem to have an excellent grasp of logic, analytical reasoning and practical mathematics, valuable skills in today’s job market.

And they were able to grasp that without Common Core, go figure.

One thought on “PARCC Practice Exam May Cause a Rage Headache

  1. It was painful watching these high school girls struggle over these problems. I do not understand why 6th graders have to use modeling scenarios to solve vague problems or number lines to solve problems that can be computed by using simple fractions. Can you just imagine how stupid the 6th graders will feel after taking this test?. There is a difference between “rigorous” and tortuous. Unfortunately, the creators of Common Core standards and PARCC testing do not know the difference, nor do they understand the developmental growth of students.
    I am a grandmother who homeschools one set of grandchildren using a truly rigorous and classical education model. My grandchildren are challenged daily, but do not feel stupid because the works is geared to their age level appropriately. My other set of grandchildren are victims of Common Core. They used to love school. Now they hate it. My grandson has developed behavioral stress mannerisms because of this new curriculum. He wonders why the teachers are trying to “trick him, not teach him” (his words) and I have no explanation. He asks me to help with his math. I show him the traditional way to do math and from there he is able to figure out what the teacher wants him to do. That is because he learned the concept and can now construct the solution to please the teacher. As he says is, “First I do it the smart way (Grandma’s), then I redo it the hard way.” Pathetic, isn’t it?

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