Mill Pond PARCC FAQs 2015

Mill Pond PARCC Update 3/5/15 

On Tuesday, 2/24/15, the Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Daniel Mayer, along with Sue Bardsley, K-6 Literacy Curriculum Coordinator, and Jenny Deane, K-6 Math Curriculum Coordinator, hosted a Parent PARCC Night at Mill Pond for parents of students in grades 3-8.  Their presentation covered these PARCC-related topics:

·  Why do we use standardized tests?

·  Why do we need to replace MCAS?

·  What is PARCC?

·  When will it be given and what will a testing session look like?

·  What subjects will be tested by PARCC

·  How are we preparing our students?

·  How can families reinforce learning at home?

Link to the Presentation: Slides from the Westborough Parent Presentation (February 2015)

 FYI:  Administrators, Counselors and Teachers will hold grade-level assemblies during the week of 3/9/15 with all of our students.  The assembly with have a general focus on resilience and positivity, with a minor focus on positive mindset for PARCC testing.  


If you are wondering about the details of the testing experience for Mill Pond students, we drafted the following Frequently Asked Questions.  If you have a question that is not included below, please contact either Ms. Kenny or Mr. Slomski at 508.836.7780.

Q: Will all MPS students take the PARCC tests?  

Yes, all students in grades 4-6 will take the PARCC tests for ELA and Math.  

Q:  Will any students take the MCAS tests?

Students will NOT take the MCAS test in ELA or Math.  

Grade 5 students WILL take the Science MCAS in May, as there is no Science test in PARCC.

Q: How many Mill Pond PARCC sessions are there and when will they occur ?

All of the below dates can be found on the Mill Pond website calendar under “Upcoming Events”

March Dates:

·  Grade 4 ELA on March 16th, 17th, and 18th

·  Grade 4 Math on March 19th and 20th.

·  Grades 5 and 6 ELA on March 24th, 25th, and 26th

·  Grades 5 and 6 Math on March 27th and 30th

May Dates:

·  Grade 4 ELA on May 7th

·  Grade 4 Math on May 8th and 11th

·  Grade 5 ELA on May 13th

·  Grade 5 Math on May 14th and 18th

·  Grade 6 ELA on May 13th and 14th

·  Grade 6 Math on May 18th and 19th

Testing Times:  (All teams have the same number of minutes in which to complete the test)

4th grade:  Two teams begin testing at 8:15.

     When they are finished, the other team will start between 9:55 and 10:25.  

5th grade:  All students will all start testing at 8:15

6th grade:  All students will start between 9:55 and 10:25.  

* Exception to the above: All students testing in small groups with extended time will start their testing at 8:15.

Q: How long are the test sessions?

The test sessions range from 60 minutes to 90 minutes, with no additional time permitted. 

: The time for each session includes an extra 50% time for students who may need to take longer than others. That means for the 90 minute sessions, most students will be done in 60 minutes.  Last year, in the PARCC field tests both here and at Gibbons, most students did not require the full testing time to complete their testing.  Because of the time limit on the tests, we expect students will spend less time testing than on the MCAS tests.  This means students will not miss as much of their regular classroom instruction.

* Exception to the above: A small number of students may have longer than the designated time if their IEP, 504 plan, or ESL status requires this.

Q: What’s the difference between the March and the May PARCC tests?

The March PARCC sessions are Performance Based Assessments (PBA) and the May sessions are End of Year Assessments (EOY).  The PBA tests include more open ended questions that will be scored by human scorers (trained educators) and cover material taught in the first two trimesters.  The EOY tests occur after approximately 90% of the instructional time is complete and are administered in May. 

Q: What will be the content of the test sessions?

For English Language Arts (ELA), the three PBA sessions in March focus on “writing effectively when analyzing text” and will be broken up as follows:

         a.   Literary Analysis

         b.   Research Simulation

         c.   Narrative Writing

For math, the two PBA sessions “focus on applying skills and concepts, and on understanding multistep problems that require abstract reasoning, precision, perseverance, and strategic use of tools.”

The EOY tests in ELA and math asks students to “demonstrate their acquired skills and knowledge by answering selected response questions.”  This means that the tests will be less open-ended and will have questions that can be answered by multiple choice, drag and drop, or short answers.  These sessions will be machine scored.

 Q: What devices will students use?

Students at Mill Pond will use the same type of device for all of their test sessions.  It could be one of the following which are all compatible with the PARCC testing software:

a.  A desktop computer in a computer lab

b.  A Chromebook in a classroom

c.  An iPad, with attached keyboard, in a classroom 

Q: What practice will students have with those devices?

Most Mill Pond students have already practiced using the device that they’ll be using for the actual testing.  Those who haven’t yet practiced are scheduled to do so before the testing begins.

Q: How will Mill Pond test so many students with the devices it currently has?

We have enough devices for the 4th grade to use during their testing windows.  We are borrowing many carts of Chromebooks from Gibbons and the high school in order to test the 5th and 6th grades together on the same days.  With the state technology grant the district received, Mill Pond will have enough devices so that we won’t need to borrow devices from another school next year.

Q: What materials/resources can students use during the test?

Students will have scrap paper to use while they take the tests.  This will include blank paper, lined paper, and grid paper.  They can have as much as they want of any kind.  Sixth graders will be using calculators for certain portions of the test.  Those calculators will be provided by the school.  Many “tools” that a student might need are available through the computer program, such as the ability to highlight passages, take online notes while reading, use rulers for measuring, etc.

Q: Will students need headphones for the testing?

Yes, all students will utilize headphones for the testing.  We have headphones in school for most Mill Pond students.  Some 5th and 6th grade students, however, brought home the headphones that they used last year and have not yet brought them back to school.   Those students should bring those headphones back to school or they may bring any other headphones from home that are available.  Earbuds are perfectly fine for the PARCC testing.

 Q: What if my child arrives late on a PARC testing day?

If a student arrives after their assigned starting time for that day, they will NOT be able to take that test session with their class.  They will make up that test session at another time, likely after the rest of the scheduled testing sessions are complete.  This would mean that they would miss instructional time since the rest of the class will resume their regular class schedule.




Q: What if my child is absent on a PARCC testing day?

They will make up that test session on another day, likely after the rest of the scheduled testing sessions are complete.

 Q:  Will I get a score report on how my child did on PARCC?

Yes, in the Fall schools and families will get a report on how students did on PARCC, most likely in October.  This will help you to see how your child is progressing in ELA and math, and it will help us as a school to see how we can better prepare all students to master the skills that are taught in our curriculum and assessed through PARCC.

 Q:  How can I help my child prepare for the PARCC?

Teachers have been preparing your children to be successful on the PARCC test through their daily instruction with your students.  You can help your child by doing the following:

a.  Make sure your child has a good night sleep each night (all year!)

b.  Make sure your child has a healthy breakfast of protein and carbs, and brings healthysnack for break time. (all year!)

c.  Remind your child:

             i.   The PARCC test is just one of the many ways in which we assess student learning.

             ii.  Each child should do his/her best, but should not worry about the test. Some questions will seem easy, some will be just right, and some will be challenging.  That’s to be expected!  PARCC scores will not affect students’ report cards or promotion in grades 4-6. They are ready for a  “Walk in the PARCC!”