PARCC: A Goodbye to the HSPA

Would a test by any other name still smell as sweet?  The PARCC assessment is poised to replace HSPAs in two years.

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: PARCC

Would a test by any other name still smell as sweet? The PARCC assessment is poised to replace HSPAs in two years.

by Eleanor Shaw, Alumni Editor

Last week, juniors came into school at the regular time to take the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) while all other students got a few extra hours of sleep.  Since September 1, 2001, New Jersey has made it a requirement for New Jersey public school students to pass this test for high school graduation.  Twelve years have passed since the New Jersey Department of Education administered this test for the first time.  Now they are thinking about getting rid of the HSPAs and replacing it with a new type of test.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a group of 22 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands “working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math anchored in what it takes to be ready for college and careers,” as stated on the PARCC website.  New Jersey is one of the 22 states that supports this new assessment that will supposedly help enhance a student’s learning and prepare him for college, their career, and life in general.

According to the PARCC website, “The PARCC performance-based and end-of-year assessments will be ready for full implementation in the 2014-15 school year.”  But how different is the goal of the PARCC assessment to the goal of the HSPAs?  They both wish to enable all students to acquire skills, understandings, and attitudes that will help them in the future to have successful careers and lives.  So what difference does it make to change the assessment given to students?




Length Total: 6 hrsApprox. two hours each day for three days. Total: 9.5 hrsApprox. one hour each day^time combined for the [performance-based assessment] PBA and [end-of-year assessment] EOY components.
Offered “window” 20 days 20 days for each
When One given every school year to 11th graders in March of their school year.Makeups are administered in October of the next school year. PBA will be given after approximately 75% of the school year.EOY will be given after approximately 90% of the school year.
Sections Mathematics: mostly multiple choice with some open-ended questions (1 day).Language Arts: mostly multiple choice with some open-ended questions as well as three essays (2 days). PBA—
Mathematics: two sessions
^mostly short- and extended- response  minimal multiple choiceELA/literacy: three sessions
^vocabulary questions, short comprehension questions, essays using textual evidenceEOY—
Mathematics: two sessionsELA/literacy: two sessions


As you can see, there are slight differences between the two tests; however, the goals of both tests are very similar.

Patt Dowling, a sophomore at Glen Rock High School, says that he “would prefer to take the HSPAs [over the PARCC assessments].  It’s something that everyone is familiar with.”