PARCC Assessments for CCSS

PARCC Content Frameworks | PARCC.

Check these out QUICKLY as the drafts are only available for public view/comment until August 17.

A couple of points I wanted to make from my scanning of the 90-page document (side note:  I always wondered why politicians sign off on bills they haven’t thoroughly read, and now, seeing this 90-page document that requests feedback without having the time or wherewithal to read the entire thing, I understand):

On “Close Reading”

…the close reading model is a central guiding principle of the standards and as a result will be a central focus of the PARCC Assessment System. … Close reading stresses engaging with a text of sufficient complexity directly and examining its meaning thoroughly and methodically. It emphasizes using texts of grade-level-appropriate complexity and focusing student reading on the particular words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs of the author, encouraging students to read and re-read deliberately. [emphasis added]

In a previous post where I discussed some of the questions coming up about CCSS and ELA, I mentioned the increased requirements on critical reading and analysis.  At one of the workshops I attended this summer, ELA Curriculum Rep Marcia Barnhart (from ODE) said she heard about a MS LA class spending 3 days doing a close analysis of the Constitution–breaking down words and phrases.  It looks like the PARCC assessment is taking this close reading requirement to heart in creation of assessments.

On “Informational Texts”

Most of the required reading in college and workforce training programs is informational in structure and challenging in content; postsecondary education programs typically provide students with both a higher volume of such reading than is generally required in K–12 schools and comparatively little scaffolding. Therefore, the standards and the Model Content Frameworks call for a significant amount of reading of informational texts in and outside the ELA classroom.

Remember, I said I’ve heard there is an expectation that 70% of reading at grade 12 will be nonfiction, and 30% fiction.  At 4th grade, the split is 50%/50%

On the idea that “We are ALL Reading Teachers”

Since all fields of study demand analysis of complex texts and strong oral and written communication skills using discipline-specific discourse—and since disciplines acquire, develop, and share knowledge in unique ways—building robust instruction around discipline-specific literacy skills better prepares students for college and careers. For example, professional chemists and literary critics unlock meaning by examining vastly different text structures, and students therefore must adopt appropriate approaches when reading within disciplines. In a similar vein, students must recognize and master the different ways an artist and a historian communicate via written (and multimedia) products. The standards are designed to move students beyond general reading and writing strategies so they are prepared to read and write proficiently in particular disciplines. The Model Content Frameworks provide all educators with foundational ideas for inscribing disciplinary literacy skills and practice in their instructional programming.
Yet it is important to note that the Model Content Frameworks—following the standards—insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language is a shared responsibility within schools. The standards for grades 3–5 include expectations regarding reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language that apply to a range of subjects, including but not limited to ELA. The standards for grades 6–12 include standards for ELA and separate standards for history/social studies, science, and technical subjects (these two sets of closely related standards reflect the primary role ELA teachers have in developing students’ literacy skills while at the same time acknowledging that teachers in other areas must play an important role in this development as well).
The shared responsibility for literacy manifests itself within the Model Content Frameworks in multiple ways. In grades 3–5, some of the assigned reading is intended to involve reading from across the disciplines; in grades 6–12, the Model Content Frameworks serve as guides to disciplinary teachers when considering reading and writing across the disciplines. In all grades the responsibility of all teachers to empower students emerging from high school with college- and career-ready reading, writing, speaking and listening skills is recognized.

I’ve said it; you’ve said it; we’ve all said it, and now it’s in the standards…”We are ALL reading teachers.”  Reading teachers should adopt the following mindset as we begin helping others teach reading: “Let me help you help your students access your content”.

What I am not at all happy about in PARCC’s Model Content Framework:

The Model Content Framework.  PARCC says, “The module chart (an example of which appears below) offers a visual model of how the standards for a particular grade level could be organized into an easy-to-understand structure to aid states and districts in developing instructional tools.”  This is the exact opposite of how this process should be working.  We should not be creating our instruction based on the suggested frameworks of the potential assessment (that would be the very definition of “teaching to the test”!!!).  Instead, we should be creating the framework at the state level (as ODE has done with their model curriculum), and using an assessment geared toward our own needs.  The very fact that PARCC oversteps the line between federal jurisdiction and state/local regulations justifies the many concerns people have shared about CCSS bordering on a national curriculum with prescribed methodology for in the classroom.

I am not happy about PARCC’s approach.  Nor am I happy that they have done the work that should have and could have been done by local educators.  I am even MORE unhappy about the prescribed nature of PARCC’s assessment.  Though I’ve known all along that neither PARCC nor Smarter Balanced was taking an “authentic assessment” approach to creating their standardized tests, I am unhappy about the probable focus of the tests and their overstepping on my position as a professional educator and my own abilities to figure out the essential standards of my grade level :/


One thought on “PARCC Assessments for CCSS

  1. Pingback: EdWeek Assessment Seminar « Turn On Your Brain

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