Letter to Parents for PARCC

March 2015

Dear Families,

As you know, our third, fourth and fifth grade students will take the PARCC Performance-Based Assessment in both English Language Arts and Mathematics later this month.  This assessment is new and we continue to make the best preparations we can with the information received from the state. We are treating this year as a baseline experience for gathering information about both the test and our performance. We will use the results of the assessment to plan for growth in future years and determine if additional shifts in our curriculum are necessary.

Our goal is to guide students through this experience with as little stress as possible. To that end, students will explore practice tests to become familiar with the assessment format over the next two weeks. The following points are being emphasized as we introduce the practice test to students:

  • This is a new test that may replace MCAS. As we have made changes to what we teach, it was decided by the state of Massachusetts that schools would have the opportunity to try this test.
  • We know very little about the test because students have never taken it. As a result, students should do their best but know they may not feel totally successful or prepared and they may not finish the test. All of that is okay.
  • During practice test sessions, the primary goal is to learn the technology aspect of the test; navigate the testing site, use the tools, and learn how to answer the different types of questions for ELA and Math.
  • During the real test sessions, students should work through the test and do the best they can but remember that they are trying a test for the first time. The results will let us (teachers) know if we are focusing on the right things in our teaching.
  • Again, students may not finish the test, which is just fine.

As we continue to make a conscious effort to minimize the anxiety and stress students feel about the PARCC assessment, it will be important for them to receive a similar message at school and at home.

The testing dates for Memorial-Spaulding were predetermined by the district so additional Instructional Technology staff could be assigned to support the proctoring of the test. On the days we are administering the PARCC assessment to more than one grade level, one class will take the test in the morning while the other takes the test late morning or early afternoon. The exact time is based on the current schedule of the grade level. Classroom teachers will communicate the testing time to families. As a reminder the testing dates are as follows:


Grade 3: March 23rd, March 25th, March 27th

Grade 4: March 23rd, March 24th, March 26th

Grade 5: March 25th, March 26th, March 27th


Grade 3: April 8th, April 9th

Grade 4: April 8th, April 10th

Grade 5: April 9th, April 10th

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


Lisa McManus