Wednesday, October 28, 2015
By David Connerty-Marin
Educator-built, kid-tested items will better prepare students
The states that make up the PARCC consortium are taking the exceptional step of releasing test questions from this year’s PARCC assessments to give teachers a powerful tool to inform classroom instruction. The release of the test items will give parents insight into the kinds of questions students are seeing on their tests, so assessments aren’t a mystery. The test questions were built with robust mathematics problems and authentic reading passages selected and reviewed extensively by dozens of educators from PARCC states.
PARCC states see these released questions as valuable instructional tools that will give teachers better in-sight into how students may demonstrate mastery of the standards and how they might be helped on their pathways to academic success—whether in earlier graders or, for older students, college and careers.
The released test questions represent roughly one full test per grade level in each subject area. In addition to the questions being released, the release will show the learning standards associated with each test item and scoring rubrics that show what is required to score at each performance level. Examples of scored student responses are also available for teachers and students to see actual work and the corresponding points earned on the student example.
“This is a game changer for parents. The PARCC assessment is different from the assessments of the past because it requires students to think and show what they know. This is a great opportunity to be transparent so assessment isn’t a black box,” said Laura Slover, CEO of Parcc Inc. "We’re giving teachers effective targets on which to put together classroom strategies to help their students succeed. They’re able to see test questions and understand the concepts that are being measured in each item. As a former teacher I would have welcomed questions like these.”
The PARCC tests were built by educators. They were built on higher standards—meant to challenge students to demonstrate skills that are needed to succeed in everyday life, not to memorize facts. Providing the test questions shows parents, teachers and students the skills that are being measured; problem solving, critical thinking, comprehension and analysis. The examples help students and parents see not only what is being asked, but how the answers are being measured to better understand what is being expected of students.
Together, these materials will give educators considerable insight into how the PARCC test measures student understanding of the standards and will help educators plan instruction in their classroom.
This is the first release of items. PARCC is committed to releasing at least as many items in each subsequent year, which will demonstrate the diversity and breadth of items.
The newly released items are available on the Partnership Resource Center, which was developed by the states that participate in the PARCC assessments. The Partnership Resource Center is an instructional tool for states with college and career ready learning standards. It houses a variety of educator supports, including K-2 formative tasks, speaking and listening tools, professional learning modules focused on helping teachers make use of the many resources that make up the PARCC assessment system, and the newly-released test items. Access to grades 2-8 diagnostic assessments will be added to the PRC later this year.
The platform is located at parccresources.org. In the coming months, the items will be available in their native digital format and teachers will be able to use the online Test Builder to create their own classroom-based assessments.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — is a group of states working together to develop a set of mathematics and English language arts assessments that measure whether students are on track to be successful in the next academic work and, ultimately, in college and their careers. These assessments were designed from the ground up by educators to be different than previous state tests and to evaluate not only knowledge, but also important skills like critical thinking, problem-solving and effective communications. The assessments provide critical information about whether students are on track in their learning and for success after high school, and tools to help teachers customize teaching and learning to meet student needs.