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Schools learn more about new transition test

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — School officials were given more details on Thursday on how the state will begin its shift away from PARCC, starting with a transition test to be administered in just a few months.

The transition test is billed as a shorter assessment than PARCC that will have a different design, but will be delivered on the same computer testing platform.

Lt. Gov. Howie Morales, who’s taking over Public Education Department secretary duties on an interim basis, sent a memo to superintendents and charter administrators that shows the new transition test, which is to be called New Mexico Standards Based Assessment of Mathematics and English Language Arts, will be administered in an April 22 to May 10 testing window.

The memo comes exactly a week after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced via executive order that New Mexico will drop the controversial standardized PARCC test.

Morales told the Journal that the new test will replace PARCC testing this spring.

But he stressed that this spring’s transition test will not be the final version of the state’s standardized test. Rather, he said, the state is still developing a test that will completely replace PARCC in the future.

“We will have an assessment that drastically moves away from PARCC,” he told the Journal on Thursday.

This spring’s exam will still use digital testing – since school staff are already trained on the PARCC system – and the data from the new test will be comparable to prior year’s results.

“This transition assessment will follow a new test blueprint … while maintaining the compatibility of the longitudinal scale and five performance levels,” his memo, dated Jan. 10, says.

Morales’ memo also stresses that the transition test will be up to 1.5 hours shorter than the PARCC per subject area, which is reading and math.

“Districts and charter school staff should be assured that the Spring 2019 New Mexico Standards Based Assessment of Mathematics and English Language Arts will be … 1 to 1.5 hours shorter per subject area, reducing overall testing time by 30 percent,” it reads.

The new test will be aligned with the state’s common core standards, his memo says.

There will be webinars next week for staff and administrators to learn about the administration and procedures of the new test.

Resources on the transition assessment will be available starting Monday, according to the memo.