On January 15, 2015 the Federation partnered with Dr. Barbara Radner from the Polk Bros. Foundation Center for Urban Education at DePaul University to offer the PARCC Preview for Community Schools and Partner Organization .  This orientation to PARCC provided partner organizations with an understanding of PARCC and how they can support student achievement on this new standardized assessment.

Below you can find additional information about PARCC and download the materials that were shared at the session on January 15.

PARCC Resources

Parent Guide to Make PARCC Progress
Parent Workshop Planner
Meet the PARCC Challenge with Clear Thinking - Packet from PARCC Preview on January 15


What is it?
PARCC stands for P artnership for A ssessment of R eadiness for C ollege and C areers

It is a test of mathematics and of reading.

Students will complete it in two parts: March and April/May.

The first part, which students take in March, includes multiple choice and another kind of question: Constructed Response questions. The Constructed Response question asks students to respond by writing about their ideas. The second part, which they will take in late April and in May, includes multiple choice items only.

The PARCC questions, whether they are multiple choice or constructed response, all are based on the Common Core Standards .

Who will take it?

All students in grades 3-12 enrolled in public schools in Illinois will take the test, although parents may “opt out” of the test.

On March 2, Chicago Public Schools announced that ALL students grades 3-8 will take the PARCC (they originally stated that only 10% of schools would administer the test).  Students in grades 3-5 will take the paper and pencil version, while students in grade 6-8 will take the computer version.

When is it?

Chicago Public School PARCC Assessment “Windows” Spring 2015 are:
Performance Based Assessments—include constructed responses— March 9-April 2

End of Year Assessments
April 27 – May 22

Source: Chicago Public Schools Assessment Calendar

What other tests will students take?
Will students take the ISAT—the Illinois test that they had been taking each year in M arch?
No, the ISAT is over.
ISAT was a state-wide test that met a requirement that states receiving federal funds must have a state-wide test to measure student learning progress each year. Starting in 2015, PARCC will do that.

What is NWEA and why are students taking that test in CPS elementary schools?
NWEA is a test that is completely multiple choice. CPS elementary schools must give this test at least once—in May. They can also choose to take it in September and in January so they can find out how well their students are doing. But the NWEA test that has the greatest importance is the spring test, because a school’s progress—including the school report card—will be based on comparing the schools spring 2014 NWEA scores to the school’s spring 2015 scores. The NWEA is a “local assessment”—each school district in Illinois is required to have a way to measure growth from year to year.

What tests do the high schools use for that local assessment?
They use the EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT tests, which include reading, math, science, and English. The English test is a test of grammar and usage.

How will PARCC accommodate diverse learners? How will PARCC provide access for ELL students?
PARCC has organized an extensive set of options and supports for students with disabilities, English learners, and English learners with disabilities.  PARCC provides an overview of its responsiveness to student needs for a fair and accessible assessment as well as specific options and supports. .

How will this year’s PARCC test scores be used?
This is the first time students will take the PARCC. This summer, the results will be analyzed to set up a basis for evaluating students’ progress in all the states that take the PARCC.

Why are only some states taking the PARCC?
PARCC is one of two organizations that got a contract to prepare tests based on the Common Core State Standards. The other organization, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, has prepared a test that is like PARCC in that there is more writing. Some states have chosen to take that test; while other states are paying for the development of other tests.

What are the major differences between ACT, NWEA, ISAT, and PARCC?
The PARCC asks students to write responses, NWEA does not. While the 2014 ISAT did include written responses, called extended responses, they were essays, while the PARCC includes having students write stories, write from a character’s point of view, and other kinds of writing, not just formal essays.

ACT does include having students write essays in which they analyze different texts, so ACT is closer to PARCC than NWEA. But ACT was designed before the Common Core standards were developed, so it is not measuring the standards as completely as PARCC does.

EXPLORE and PLAN do not include any writing.

How is the PARCC test different from the tests of the past (including ISAT)?
Th e PARCC Difference: RIGOR

PARCC gives this example:

Old Test Kind of Vocabulary
PARCC Example
Which two words are synonyms for heap?
a.  pile b.  row
c.  corner d.  mound
e.  pattern

Students identify the meaning of words without any context.
After students read a text with numbered paragraphs, they answer a series of questions, and
each of the multiple choice questions requires them to make a choice—the first part—part A—asks
them to analyze; the second part, part B, asks them to justify their analysis. They cannot choose
a correct response to part B without carefully comprehending the text.

Part A.
What is the meaning of the word dictate as it is used in paragraph 23?
a.  hint b.  fix
c.  understand d.  decide

Part B. Which phrase helps the reader understand the meaning of dictate?
a.  “…recreate the tree house…”
b.  “…determine the shape…”
c.  “…is less expensive to build…”
d.  “…has all the time in the world…”

PARCC Resources

Where can I find sample PARCC questions?
Go to this url: http://www.parcconline.org/take-the-test
--– the practice tests are there for all grades, 3-8 and high school.

Where can I get useful information about PARCC?

Resources for Families: Common Core Illinois—Real Learning for Real Life

Where can I get explanations of PARCC for Parents in several languages ?

Guide to the New PARCC Assessment—For Parents

Parent Workshop Planner

Packet from PARCC Preview on January 15
Federation for Community Schools • 125 S. Wacker Drive • 14th Floor • Chicago • IL 60606 • 312.424.6814