A new standardized test for students in grades three through eight is being introduced this week. The state’s “Palmetto Achievement Challenge Tests”, or P.A.C.T., ended its ten-year reign as a measure of a student’s progress. The state will now use the “Palmetto Assessment of State Standards”, or P.A.S.S., as the new standard.
Pete Pillow of the South Carolina Department of Education says there is a faster turn around time for scores and it will be more popular with students as the writing portion of the test has been separated.
“Before with P.A.C.T., you had those combined,” he said. “The writing portion of the test and the other portions were all together.
“Now what students will be taking this week is all multiple-choice testing in English Language Arts, in Math, also in Social Studies, and in Science. It’s a test that’s supposed to give a little more information about how individual students are doing and where their strengths and weaknesses are in terms of academics.”
Pillow says the results from the new tests should give parents a better idea of where their children’s abilities in school. “It should be a better test in terms of having results that are a little more understandable for parents, students and educators because it will individualized to the particular student,” said Pillow.
“So, it’ll be a little more user-friendly. If you’re a parent and you get a set of P.A.S.S. scores for your student, you’ll understand better how they are doing in school.”
Pillow also dispelled the notion that these tests change the way a teacher teaches saying the test is designed to measure what the students are learning. According to Pillow, “since it is actually related more to what the kids are doing in class everyday, in effect, if you’re teaching what you are supposed to be teaching, you will be teaching to the test. It is going to be based on the state standards and the state academic standards are what the teachers are supposed to be doing classrooms. In effect, yes you are teaching to the test, but that’s because you are teaching to a set of standards and test measures how well the student does in satisfying those academic standards.”