HILLSBOROUGH: PARCC needs participation to make it a meaningful test  

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To the editor: 
As Hillsborough enters its second year of PARCC testing, many students and parents remain concerned about test. Since the test is still new and unfamiliar to many families, it is understandable that many people would like to know more about the tests. Of course, parents would like to know the specifics of the tests their students take, and the school administration should provide them with as much information as possible.
However, parents and students should also understand that the district itself has no choice but to administer the statewide test, and that the state has the students’ best interests in mind when creating the test.
Though no testing policy will be universally popular among parents and students, it is important that as many students as possible can take the test, in order to provide the district and the state with sufficient data on student performance. If not enough students take the test, then the results become essentially meaningless as measures of a district’s overall performance.
There is considerable debate on whether such standardized testing is an accurate way of measuring a student’s knowledge, but this debate is only meaningful if there is enough data from the tests to determine whether or not they are fair measures. No one benefits when mass numbers of students opt out of the test.
That is why it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children take the PARCC test. Yes, it is inconvenient from the point of view of students who have to wake up early and come take a test they think doesn’t matter to them. It may also be easy for parents to allow their kids to opt out because they are wary of excessive standardized testing or centralized control of education.
But the only way for progress to be made is if parents and students work with the state and district administration, not against them. If the PARCC test turns out to be a failure that doesn’t provide any useful insight on how to improve education in Hillsborough, then we can admit our mistake and try something else. We do have to give it a chance first. 
Vinay Ravinder 
Hillsborough 