The Washington Post (click to take you to the article)
Curious about the Common Core tests that have generated so much debate and so many low scores in recent months? Now you can check them out yourself.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, has released hundreds of test questions that were given to students in 2015 — roughly equivalent to a full test’s worth for each grade level and subject.
[To take a 10-question PARCC quiz, click here or scroll to the bottom of this story.]
In math, some of the questions will look familiar to anyone who’s taken a standardized test in the last 20 years:
Other questions show how this new test departs from the old multiple-choice fare. Like the third-grade math problem below, PARCC often demands that students not just answer questions but also explain their thinking:
In language arts, parents and teachers will need to do extra research, in many cases, in order to fully understand what is being asked. Many questions are based on literary passages that PARCC has withheld due to copyright issues.
For example, a dozen narrative writing questions for third-graders are based on a story that teachers and parents can’t actually read online. PARCC urges a visit to the library to find a 14-year-old edition of Ladybug magazine:
In other cases, parents and teachers can see both the passage and the questions. For example, third graders are asked to do a “research simulation task” by reading two passages about the Arctic [viewable here] and then answering a series of questions, including the one below:
PARCC officials said they want to make the test less mysterious for parents, and they want to give teachers tools to better understand what students are expected to know. Besides test questions, PARCC is also releasing scoring guides and actual student responses that have been scored.
“This is a great opportunity to be transparent so assessment isn’t a black box,” said Laura Slover, the chief executive of the nonprofit that manages the PARCC exam.
The PARCC tests have come under fire for their length and technical glitches and for efforts by their test publisher, Pearson, to crack down on cheating via social media.
Some communities have come to see PARCC as a symbol of federal overreach (PARCC is one of two groups of states that got hundreds of millions of dollars to develop new tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards, but it is not a federal program), and some see it as emblematic of an overemphasis on standardized testing in America’s schools.
Fewer than half of the states originally part of PARCC — 11 states and the District of Columbia — were still on board when the online tests rolled out this spring. Since then, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Ohio all have dropped out and just seven states and the District plan to give the test in 2015-2016, raising questions about whether the consortium is in danger of completely falling apart.
To see how you might do with PARCC questions, here’s a 10-question fifth-grade math quiz (or if you’re reading on a cell phone, click here):