As reported here recently, teachers, parents and students attended an open forum in Trenton Jan. 7 to voice concerns about the “Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers” exam all students in grades 3 through 11 are required to take this spring.

The following Q & A is excerpted from a lengthy "frequently asked question" section of the PARCC website and represents only a portion of the information that can be accessed there directly. The representations made in this Q & A are strictly those of PARCC and are shared here as a service to readers.

Q. What is PARCC?

A. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a group of 19 states [including New Jersey] working together to develop a common set of computer-based K–12 assessments in English language arts/Literacy and math linked to the new, more rigorous Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Q. Why do states need new assessments?

A. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia voluntarily adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010 and 2011, and these states need assessments that are aligned to these higher standards. . . They will provide more meaningful, actionable and timely information for educators, parents and students.

Q. Which states make up PARCC?

A. Nineteen are Governing States in the consortium: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee. Kentucky and Pennsylvania are Participating States. The U.S. Virgin Islands is a participating territory.

Q. How does a state participate in PARCC?

A. Any state can join, as either a Governing or Participating State, by signing the PARCC Memorandum of Understanding. All states in PARCC commit to adopting the Common Core State Standards. PARCC Governing States commit to participating
exclusively in PARCC and to administering the assessment system statewide during the 2014–15 school year. These states also commit to field testing the assessment system components in spring 2014.

Q. What are the components of the PARCC assessment system?

A. The assessments will cover English language arts (ELA)/literacy and math for grades 3–11. . .  Item and task prototypes that illustrate what will be included . . . are available here:

Q. Will the PARCC high school ELA/literacy and mathematics exams be given at the end of the course or end of the grade?

A. The high school ELA/literacy exams will be given at the end of the grade (for grades 9, 10 and 11). The high school math exams will be given at the end of the course. PARCC is creating two sequences of exams, aligned to two different math course sequences. . .

Q. Are sample items available?

A. Sample items and tasks for math and ELA/literacy. . . are available at

Q. Is PARCC replacing my state’s current assessments?

A. The PARCC assessments are being designed to replace current state assessments for English language arts/literacy and mathematics in grades 3–11.

(Photo courtesy of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers)

Q. Will the high school assessments be used for admission into two-and four-year institutions of higher education?

A. The assessments are not intended to be used by colleges and universities in decisions about college admission. They are intended only to give students a College-and Career-Ready Determination that indicates they are academically prepared to enroll in first-
year, credit-bearing courses at two-and four-year institutions and can be exempt from taking a placement test at the college or university they attend.

Q. Will the PARCC tests be used as a graduation requirement for high school students?

A. This is a state decision.

Q. How much time will the PARCC assessments take? How does this compare with what is currently in place?

A. Since testing times currently vary from state to state, some states may find an increase in testing time and others a reduction of testing time. In some places, time spent on testing will stay the same. . .Based on early research. . .  The estimated times for both components and both subject areas are as follows:

  • 8 hours on performance-based and end-of-year assessments in ELA/literacy and math annually in 3rd grade
  • Just over 9 hours to assess those subjects in grades 4–5
  • A little less than 9 ½ hours in middle school
  • A little more than 9 ½ hours in high school

Q. How is PARCC governed?

A. The chief state school officer for each of the governing states serves on the PARCC Governing Board. . .

Q. How is PARCC funded?

A. PARCC is funded through a $186 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top assessment program to support the development and design of the next-generation assessment system.

Q. Who should I contact if I have additional questions about PARCC?

A. If you have general questions about PARCC, please use the contact form on the PARCC website to submit a question. . . If you have a question regarding PARCC in your state, you also may use the PARCC state pages on the PARCC website . . . to identify the K–12 or higher education lead for PARCC in your state so that you can contact them directly.