MDE News

MDE Announces New Planning Tool to Help Districts Prepare for Rigorous 21st Century Assessments

by Mar 25, 2013


For Immediate Release: March 25, 2013

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education today announced a new planning tool and guidance from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) for schools and districts that will help them get ready for new, 21st century assessments in the 2014-2015 school year.

Transitioning from pencil and paper assessments to computer-based testing aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) requires schools to make appropriate preparations. The PARCC Assessment Administration Capacity Planning Tool provides schools and districts with a calculator to assist in local technology budgeting and decision-making in preparation for computer-based administration of the tests.  Administrators and school leaders have requested this tool from PARCC, a consortium of 22 states working together on a common set of assessments for grades 3-11.

“As we work to improve public education in Mississippi, we continue to establish increased rigor in our standards and assessments. The computer-based assessments will provide educators and parents with a deeper knowledge of how prepared our students will be for college and the workforce,” said Dr. Lynn House, interim state superintendent and a member of the PARCC Governing Board.

George Loper, principal of Center Hill High School in Olive Branch, said the planning tool will be beneficial to schools and districts as they embark on a new level of computer-based testing.

“We’ve never done this type of computer testing before, where we tested large groups of students, so I think this tool will help give schools and districts an idea of how much bandwidth we need, how much time we need for the tests, and how much technology we need,” he said. “It will help us know where we need to be so we can be successful with the testing.”

Additionally, the PARCC assessments will enable teachers, schools, students and their parents to gain important insights into how well critical knowledge, skills and abilities essential for young people to thrive in college and careers are being mastered in ways that only computer-based assessments can.  The tests will measure the skills and knowledge of students working significantly beyond or behind their grade level.  These improvements from current tests will help teachers guide instruction and give more information to students and their parents.

Because of PARCC’s ability to better measure student performance through technology, they will look very different to students. The tasks on the assessments will resemble the classroom work they do during the school year and less like a conventional fill-in-the-bubble or short-answer test. Computer delivery of PARCC will allow the test items to both measure those skills needed for life beyond high school and be interactive and engaging.

“I think the kids will be more engaged with the test. They are just more engaged when they have that piece of technology in their hands,” Loper said.

The MDE has released a 15-minute video to school districts that will provide an overview of the assessment administration guidance and online resources. 

You can find the video here:

PARCC also released guidance that provides schools and districts with more information about the design of the PARCC assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics, as well as the number of testing sessions and the approximate time it will take students to complete the assessments. 

For more information, visit


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