ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The school year is nearing the finish line but students still have rigorous work to do.
Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC testing, kicked off across the district and around the state this week.
Students in grades 3-11 will be tested on English and math through May 11, according to Albuquerque Public Schools.
This will be the first school year students see some changes announced last summer. Then-New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera said most test times will be shortened by 30 to 40 minutes. That was the second instance of reducing testing time, which has fallen 15 percent to 20 percent in total.
Each school is responsible for creating its own schedule for administering the test.
Also included in Skandera’s changes was PARCC’s start date. This year it started about two weeks later in the school year than before, allowing more school days before students are tested.
And Skandera also said districts will receive final PARCC scores four weeks earlier than they had in the past – in July rather than August.
PARCC testing began in the spring of 2015 in New Mexico, replacing the Standards Based Assessment after the state changed its New Mexico Common Core State Standards.
The state-mandated online test is used for measuring student growth and proficiency. It’s also a high school exit exam that students are expected to pass to get a diploma, a factor in a school’s overall grade and also used in teacher evaluations.
PARCC has been controversial, with critics calling it an inaccurate way to measure all students and supporters saying it’s the best way to challenge them and measure growth accurately.
When it was initially implemented, students across the state – and thousands in Albuquerque – walked out of their schools in protest.
It’s estimated nearly 5,500 students opted out of the test in its first year, but that number has since fallen to 1,235 opting out in 2017, according to New Mexico Public Education Department.
Last year, the state as a whole saw a small increase in scores from 2015. For English, there was a 2.2 percentage point bump and a 2.3 percentage point uptick for math.
For APS, English scores dropped 2.1 points and math scores saw a slight rise.