Parkland changing format for placement testing

Bill Kirby

Staff Writer

Parkland will be changing its format for placement testing at the same time that many high schools will be switching to a different standardized test.

In the past students would take the ACT to test into college. This year, Illinois colleges will use the PARCC test to determine placement.

Photo by Billi Jo Hart | The Prospectus Parkland College plans to change its placement testing at the same time many high schools will be switching to PARCC, which is aligned with the Common Core standards. Parkland has sent out surveys to get input from teachers and faculty about the switch from their current testing, Compass, to the new system.

Photo by Billi Jo Hart | The Prospectus
Parkland College plans to change its placement testing at the same time many high schools will be switching to PARCC, which is aligned with the Common Core standards. Parkland has sent out surveys to get input from teachers and faculty about the switch from their current testing, Compass, to the new system.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARRC) assessment is a standardized test that is aligned with the Common Core standards.

A press release issued by the Illinois State Board of Education on April 20, 2015 says Illinois community college presidents have agreed to start using the new assessment results to determine a student’s readiness for college-level courses.

“We applaud the Illinois Council of Community College Presidents (ICCCP) for their decision to use the PARCC exam to help high school graduates identify their course level before arriving on campus,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “The PARCC exam will give students an earlier indication of their college and career readiness and help reduce some placement exams at the community college level.”

But there are some mixed reviews on how the switch to PARRC will effect placement into colleges and universities.

“In the past students would be placed on a combination of their ACT scores. When dealing with placement issues with students Parkland would look at a students entrance scores, what their grades looked like and how did they rank on the ACT. Now, placement will be determined by the scores on PARCC which introduces new variables to the placement process,” said John Sheahan, Director of Counseling and Advising Center at Parkland.

Currently, Parkland students take a placement test called the Compass test, which has been in place since 1983.

With the Compass test being phased out, Parkland is searching for a new system to use for placement.

Michael Behrens, Director of the Parkland Assessment Center, is excited to be on the ground floor of developing the way that Parkland assesses and places its students.

“We want to make sure that everyone has a chance to give their voice and their opinions because we know one part of the college has different view points than another part of the college but at the same time, we are all part of Parkland College,” said Behrens.

This week, a survey was sent to teachers and other faculty in the hopes of  gaining information about what everyone campus-wide is looking to achieve. The survey sought to inquire about how the assessment center could better achieve its placement goals.