Common Core Testing

New test, new stress
by Tara García Mathewson

A computer lab at North Elementary School in Marshall, Ill.

Benjamin Churchill has been spending extra time with his daughter at the computer lately. Quinn, 8, will be taking her first state exam this school year, and unlike the tests her dad took, this one won’t require a No. 2 pencil.

In the final move of a three-year statewide transition, the new tests will be entirely online — and plenty of people are worried about it. Churchill is an assistant superintendent in Community Unit School District 300, which serves more than 20,000 students across 15 communities in northwestern Illinois. He says he can’t speak for students district- wide, but as a parent, he worries his daughter doesn’t have the keyboarding skills to accurately demonstrate her knowledge on the test.

While students historically have been counseled through proper bubbling on an answer sheet, they now will need keyboarding and mouse skills to prove themselves.

“We don’t, in our district, have time designated for keyboarding,” says Churchill, whose daughter attends Liberty Elementary School in Carpentersville. “Where do we fit that in during the school day? That’s going to be an issue that we and other districts have to address.”

Illinois’ new exam is the product of a multistate testing consortium, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). It is tied to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math, which Illinois adopted in 2010.

Click here for the full story in Illinois Issues magazine.

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