This is a quick and dirty summary of the newly released PARCC sample test items. If you are in one of the 19 states that will be taking the PARCC tests in 2014-2015, thought this might help you think about what our students will be facing.
Third Grade Sample Items – summary and a few of my thoughts –
- There are three sample test items; the third is the culminating activity that incorporates the thinking students had to engage in to answer questions in the first two items.
- Students are given two passages to read. Both are narrative informational texts and I’d categorize them as biographical as well. The first is an excerpt from a trade book about Eliza Scidmore, who campaigned to plant cherry trees to beautify our nation’s capital. It runs about 800+ words and 21 paragraphs. The second is a shorter excerpt on George Washington Carver from a Library of Congress site for students. (Notice the two sources – trade book and on-line source.)
- SAMPLE ITEM 1 – Students are asked a question that requires synthesis. Four events in Eliza’s life are listed in bullet form (these are drawn from the passage students read) and then the following question is posed: “What do these details show about Eliza?” So this isn’t about just recalling facts from a text to answer a question. Instead, as aligns with Common Core, this is about thinking across events and identifying the author’s main idea.
- SAMPLE ITEM 2 – Students are asked to reread three consecutive paragraphs in one of the passages and answer a question about how the events described in these paragraphs are related to each other. So again – they have to synthesize, contrasting events and thinking about what this reveals. BUT THEN PARCC also includes a follow-up question which asks students to identify the best quote from those three paragraphs that supports the answer to the question they just answered. So this is getting at students’ understanding of textual evidence.
- SAMPLE ITEM 3 – This is the culminating activity that previous items have built toward. Students are asked to write an article for the school newspaper how Scidmore and Carver faced challenges to change something in America. With the additional prompts of – “In your article, be sure to describe in detail why some solutions they tried worked and others did not” and “Tell how the challenges each one faced were the same and how they were different.”
This is just a brief summary of the items. If you go to the PARCC site with sample items you can read PARCC’s assessment claims (how the sample items meet the standards for assessment), their justification of the answers to the sample items, which standards the questions align with and so forth. There’s also a rubric for scoring the final response, but notice that it’s only for responses to prose or narrative texts.
Just by reading the sample items, I recognized which CCSS Reading Informational standards were being assessed. (Maybe because I live and breathe this stuff.) This is good material to think through when planning. Just the time spent analyzing these docs and writing this blog has helped me start to formulate ideas for materials and instruction.
Oh…one beef. Why do the test questions refer to Scidmore only by her first name – Eliza and to Carver by his last name? Why not Eliza and George? Or Scidmore and Carver? Hmmmm….is that a sexist thing? Okay…maybe it’s because in the texts (I haven’t read the one about Eliza), the authors refer to Eliza and Carver so PARCC wants to use the names they are referred to throughout the text. Maybe I should let go of this 🙂
Okay…hope this helps.