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Mahwah Schools: 'We Are Ready' for New State Exams

The new PARCC test, which is based on the Common Core standards and will be administered online, will be tested in Mahwah this spring, and roll out fully next year.

District Curriculum Director Christine Zimmermann during a Board of Education meeting Wednesday.
District Curriculum Director Christine Zimmermann during a Board of Education meeting Wednesday.

In a presentation to the Board of Education Wednesday, Mahwah schools’ Director of Curriculum and English, Science, and Social Studies Supervisors assured the district that students will be ready for a new state exam that will roll out next year, thanks to curriculum changes and an interdisciplinary teaching approach.

The administrators said Wednesday that they have been adjusting teaching methods in township schools since 2011 in an effort to prepare students for the new PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, test.

The test is based on the Common Core standards, and will be administered statewide next year. Mahwah has been selected to participate in a field test this spring.

“The PARCC tests are coming, and we’re ready for them,” Curriculum Director Christine Zimmermann told the board.

Supervisors Dennis Fare, English, Kristen Tribona, Science, and Nikki Van Ess, Social Studies, detailed how they have been working together to prepare students for the exam.

“As a team, we looked at the Common Core curriculum, and realized that we needed each other,” Fare said. “Teachers needed to work together to effectively teach these concepts.”

The three explained that the exam contains components that have students analyzing scientific data or historical documents, and asks them to write informed responses to and interpretations of them.

Teachers have been teaching students how to write about their specific content area, administering tests based on the PARCC, and examining their results to identify and address areas of weakness, they said.

“Students are experiencing the different aspects of the PARCC in every subject,” Fare said.

The new teaching technique, “makes for a beautiful environment of collaboration” amongst teachers, Van Ess said.

“Our collaboration seems natural, but other schools [in the state] are just not seeing it.”

District officials announced the trio has been invited to make several presentations to educators across the state on how Mahwah is preparing for the new test.

“We are severely ahead of the curve,” officials said.

The board and district administration commended the supervisory team for their work over the past few years to align the district’s curriculum to the Common Core, and implementing a collaborative mindset to prep for the exam.

“It’s such a joy to see this,” Board President Tricia Shada said Wednesday.

“I know that we are light years ahead and I know we are going to be great.”

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