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Comparing Traditional Literacy Assessment
to CCSS Literacy Assessment
2014
How Are The Standards Any Different?
An Overview
The CCSS bring three key shifts to literacy
instruction and assessment.
1. Complexity: Regular practice with complex
text and its academic language
2. Knowledge: Building knowledge through
content-rich nonfiction
3. Evidence: Reading, writing, and speaking
grounded in evidence from text, both literary
and informational
PAGE 2
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – An Overview
Shift 1: Regular practice with complex text and its
academic language
From
To
Little emphasis on text
complexity
Strong emphasis on text
complexity
Vocabulary questions often
focused on prior knowledge
rather than context; little
emphasis on tier 2 words
Vocabulary questions focused
on meaning of words in
context; strong emphasis on
tier 2 words and words
important to central ideas
Figurative language questions
focused on literary terms
Figurative language questions
focused on meaning, not
terms
PAGE 3
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – An Overview
Shift 2: Reading, writing and speaking grounded in
evidence from text, both literary and
informational
From
To
Focus on simple recall or
superficial analysis
Focus on careful reading and
analysis of texts
Little or no emphasis on using
textual evidence
Strong emphasis on using
textual evidence
Decontextualized writing
prompts
Writing to sources
PAGE 4
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – An Overview
Shift 3: Building knowledge through content-rich
nonfiction
From
To
Equal representation of
informational and literary
texts; limited focus on the
quality of informational texts
More informational texts as
students move through the
grades; greater focus on
content-rich informational
texts at all grades
PAGE 5
Comparing Traditional Assessment to CCSS
Assessment - Text Complexity (Shift 1)
In the next few slides, you will learn more about how
the texts on assessments aligned to the Common
Core State Standards differ from those used on past
assessments.
PAGE 6
Comparing Traditional Assessment to CCSS
Assessment – Text Complexity (Shift 1)
CCSS reading and writing assessments are based on
texts of appropriate complexity for the grade level,
as determined by quantitative and qualitative
analyses. Texts build a staircase of increasing
complexity within each year and from grade to grade
so that students are ready for college and careers.
PAGE 7
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – Text Complexity
Traditional Science Text
Have you ever noticed that
bubbles have colors? Look
closely, and you can see lots of
pretty colors on bubbles. The
colors happen when light falls
on bubbles. Then the light goes
from the bubble to your eyes.
Next time you see bubbles,
look to at what colors there
are. Do you see green or blue?
Purple or yellow? Sometimes
you can see a rainbow!
Complex Science Text – Grade 5
Bubbles can also teach us about
light. The light from the sun is
made up of many different
colors. Mixed together, they
look white. However, it is
possible to separate the
different colors of light from
each other with a prism. Small
drops of water or ice crystals
can work like a prism. You have
seen this for yourself if you
have ever seen a rainbow.
From “Bubblology,” from an online site
“Science for Kids”
PAGE 8
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – Text Complexity
Traditional Social Studies Text
Martha Graham was born in 1894
in the state of Pennsylvania.
Later her family moved to
California, where she saw a
dance being performed and
decided she wanted to be a
dancer. However, her parents did
not approve of her career choice.
But soon after her father died in
1914, she enrolled in a dance
school and stayed there until
1923, when she started her life
as a solo dancer.
Complex Social Studies Text –
Grade 9
I think the reason dance has
held such an ageless magic for
the world is that it has been the
symbol of the performance of
living. Many times, I hear the
phrase, “the dance of life.” It is
close to me for a very simple
and understandable reason. The
instrument through which the
dance speaks is also the
instrument through which life is
lived: the human body.
From Martha Graham, “An Athlete of
God” (radio interview 2009)
PAGE 9
Comparing Traditional Assessment to CCSS
Assessment of Vocabulary (Shift 1)
In the next few slides, you will learn more about how
the Common Core State Standards measuring
vocabulary differ from those used on past
assessments.
PAGE 10
Comparing Traditional Assessment to CCSS
Assessment – Vocabulary (Shift 1)
CCSS vocabulary items focus on determining the meaning
of words using context. Vocabulary items usually assess
tier 2 words*, and the tested words must be important to
the central ideas of the text.
* Words that have wide use in academic writing and are important to
student learning across many topics and all grade levels. They also:
• Are critical to reading comprehension
• Have power for students, in that they generally are members of
word families and appear in many forms (e.g., secure, insecure,
security)
• Can be used in a variety of ways and connect to other words and
concepts
• Provide precision and specificity in describing a concept or event
PAGE 11
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – Vocabulary
Traditional Item
Read this sentence from
paragraph 5.
Bubbles are pretty incredible,
but who knew?
What do the words “but who
knew?” mean in this sentence?
A. The ideas are surprising.*
B. The ideas are familiar.
C. The ideas are simple.
D. The ideas are important.
CCSS-Aligned Item
What does “circulate” mean as
used in paragraph 2?
A. Get stronger
B. Gather together
C. Break down
D. Travel around*
(Grade 5 items based on an article titled “Bubblology,” from an online site “Science for Kids”)
RI.5.4: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text
relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.
RI.5.1: Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing
inferences from the text.
PAGE 12
Comparing Traditional Assessment to CCSS
Assessment – Vocabulary (Shift 1)
CCSS items assessing figurative language ask for
analysis of the meaning or intended effect of
figurative language, rather than asking for literary
terms for figurative language.
PAGE 13
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – Vocabulary
Traditional Item
What kind of figurative language
is the phrase “tiny human
insects” in
paragraph 3?
A. personification
B. metaphor*
C. simile
D. onomatopoeia
CCSS-Aligned Item
Why does the author use the phrase
“tiny human insects” in paragraph 3?
A. To suggest that the lives of
individuals are not considered
important in Winesburg
B. To suggest the vast contrast in size
between the farmland and the
farmers*
C. To suggest that George’s decision to
leave Winesburg will not affect his
life in a significant way
D. To suggest the relative insignificance
of farming as an occupation
(Grade 9 items based on a short story from Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson)
RL.9.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and
connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g.,
how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
RL.9.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well
as inferences drawn from the text.
PAGE 14
Comparing Traditional Assessment to CCSS
Assessment – Textual Analysis (Shift 2)
In the next few slides, you will learn more about CCSS
reading test questions. Even the multiple-choice
questions, ask students to read closely and engage in
analysis of the text—they do not ask for simple recall
or superficial analysis.
PAGE 15
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – Textual Analysis
Traditional Item
Which character in the story
does not like the swamp?
A. Uncle Hamp
B. Jack’s mother*
C. Jack
D. Mattie Lou
CCSS-Aligned Item
What is the main reason that Jack
wants the canoe to be a success?
A. He wants to feel that he is
independent of his father.
B. He thinks the canoe will impress
his father.*
C. He wants to be able to travel
deep into the swamp without his
father.
D. He wants to show his father that
he can paddle a canoe as well as
a grown-up.
(Grade 3 items based on an excerpt from Tree Castle Island by Jean Craighead George)
RL.3.3: Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their
actions contribute to the sequence of events.
RL.3.1: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as
the basis for the answers.
PAGE 16
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment– Textual Analysis
Traditional Item
What is inside a bubble?
A.
B.
C.
D.
soap
air*
detergent
membrane
CCSS-Aligned Item
According to information in the
article, which of the following
bubbles would last the longest?
A. A small bubble before the air
inside passes to a larger bubble
B. A small bubble with thin, tightly
curved walls
C. A large bubble made with soap
or detergent and sugar*
D. A large bubble with walls that
bend in the wind and change
colors
(Grade 5 items based on an article titled “Bubblology,” from an online site “Science for Kids” )
RI.5.3: Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts
in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
RI.5.1: Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing
inferences from the text.
PAGE 17
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment– Textual Analysis
Traditional Item
Which quotation from the article
includes an opinion?
A. “On the industrial farm, it takes
about ten calories of fossil fuel
energy to produce one calorie of
food energy.”
B. “That means the industrial farm is
using up more energy than it is
producing.”
C. “This is the opposite of what
happened before chemical
fertilizers.”
D. “It’s too bad we can’t simply drink
the petroleum directly—it would be
more efficient.”*
CCSS-Aligned Item
Which statement best describes the
structure of paragraphs 9 – 11?
A. The paragraphs use chronological order to
show that farming methods are constantly
being invented to increase crop yields.
B. The paragraphs identify a problem farmers
faced and then explains how the
government came up with a solution to
that problem.
C. The paragraphs describe cause and effect
to show how chemical fertilizers led to
corn becoming the main U.S. crop.*
D. The paragraphs use comparison and
contrast to explain differences between a
family farm and the new kind of farm.
(Grade 7 items based on an excerpt from The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. )
RI.7.5: Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to
the whole and to the development of the ideas.
RI.7.1: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as
inferences drawn from the text.
PAGE 18
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment– Textual Analysis
Traditional Item
CCSS-Aligned Item
Which sentence describes how the
setting helps develop the theme of
“Departure”?
A. The setting is important to the
theme at the beginning of the
passage.
B. The setting contributes little to
the theme of the passage.
C. The setting helps build the theme
throughout the passage.*
D. The setting presents a significant
contrast to the theme of the
passage.
In the first three paragraphs of the
story, what is a theme that is
developed by details about the
setting?
A. The townspeople’s desires are
very different from George’s.
B. It is a time of new beginnings.*
C. The town is not likely ever to
change.
D. It is hard to survive in a rural
environment.
(Grade 9 items based on a short story from Sherwood Anderson’s novel Winesburg, Ohio.)
RL.9.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of
the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective
summary of the text.
RL.9.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well
as inferences drawn from the text.
PAGE 19
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment– Textual Analysis
Traditional Item
Which document does Anthony
quote to emphasize the idea
that women already have the
right to vote?
A. The Constitution
B. A transcript of her trial
C. The Declaration of
Independence*
D. A law of one of the states
CCSS-Aligned Item
Which statement best describes
Anthony’s viewpoint about the
proper role of government?
A. A government should define and
establish basic human rights.
B. A government should be preserved
even when citizens are dissatisfied.
C. A government should be structured
to define different roles for
different groups of people.
D. A government should ensure that
human rights are not infringed
upon.*
(Grade 10 items based on “Is It a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?” by Susan B. Anthony)
RI.10.6: Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric
to advance that point of view or purpose.
RI.10.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well
as inferences drawn from the text.
PAGE 20
Comparing Traditional Assessment to CCSS
Assessment – Use of Textual Evidence (Shift 2)
CCSS reading items ask students to use specific
textual evidence to justify and support claims about
the text.
PAGE 21
A New MC Format for CCSS-Aligned Assessment
– Calling for Use of Textual Evidence
CCSS-Aligned Item - EBSR
Part A: What is the main reason that Jack wants the canoe to be a success?
A. He wants to feel that he is independent of his father.
B. He thinks the canoe will impress his father.*
C. He wants to be able to travel deep into the swamp without his father.
D. He wants to show his father that he can paddle a canoe as well as a grown-up.
Part B: Which detail from the passage best supports the answer to Part A?
A. “And I wasn’t in just any old canoe, but one I made myself.”
B. “It was tough paddling, but L’tle Possum was amazing. She turned on a nickel
and answered every haul and draw of my paddle.”
C. “She rocked to the right and came back. I stood up and rocked her again. She
did not dump.”
D. “I’m not good at technical things like Dad is, but after I tested L’tle Possum, I
felt that he might think I had done a four-star job—maybe even five.”*
(Grade 3 item based on an excerpt from Tree Castle Island by Jean Craighead George)
RL.3.3: Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions
contribute to the sequence of events.
RL.3.1: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as
the basis for the answers.
PAGE 22
A New MC Format for CCSS-Aligned Assessment –
Calling for Use of Textual Evidence
CCSS-Aligned Item - EBSR
Part A: In the first three paragraphs of the story, what is a theme that is
developed by details about the setting?
A. The townspeople’s desires are very different from George’s.
B. It is a time of new beginnings.*
C. The town is not likely ever to change.
D. It is hard to survive in a rural environment.
Part B: Which two details from the passage support the theme in Part A?
A. “It was April and the young tree leaves were just coming out of their buds.”*
B. “The boy who slept in the hotel office lay on a cot by the door. His mouth
was open and he snored lustily.”
C. “The east was pink with the dawn and long streaks of light climbed into the
sky where a few stars still shone.”*
D., E., & F. [The remaining distractors are not shown.]
(Grade 9 item based on a short story from Sherwood Anderson’s novel Winesburg, Ohio.)
RL.9.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of
the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective
summary of the text.
RL.9.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well
as inferences drawn from the text.
PAGE 23
A New MC Format for CCSS-Aligned Assessment –
Calling for Use of Textual Evidence
CCSS-Aligned Item- EBSR
Part A: What is Anthony’s viewpoint about the proper role of government?
A. Government should define and establish human rights.
B. Government should be preserved even when citizens are dissatisfied.
C. Government should be structured to define different roles for different
people.
D. Government should ensure that human rights are not infringed upon.*
Part B: Which two details from the speech show Anthony persuading her
listeners to agree with her viewpoint about government?
A. “We assert the province of government to be to secure the people in the
enjoyment of their unalienable rights.”*
B. “And when 100 or 1,000,000 people enter into a free government, they do
not barter away their natural rights; they simply pledge themselves to protect
each other in the enjoyment of them…”*
[additional options not shown]
(Grade 10 item based on “Is It a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?” by Susan B. Anthony)
RI.10.6: Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to
advance that point of view or purpose.
RI.10.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as
inferences drawn from the text.
PAGE 24
A New MC Format for CCSS-Aligned Assessment –
Calling for Use of Textual Evidence
CCSS-Aligned Item
Part A: What does “circulate” mean as used in paragraph 2?
A. Get stronger
B. Gather together
C. Break down
D. Travel around*
Part B: Which words from the passage best help the reader
understand the meaning of “circulate”?
A. “must first be digested”
B. “through your arteries to your muscles”*
C. “another set of membranes”
D. “look for a cluster of them, and watch closely”
(Grade 5 item based on an article titled “Bubblology,” from an online site “Science for Kids”)
RI.5.4: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text
relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.
RI.5.1: Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing
inferences from the text.
PAGE 25
Comparing Traditional Assessment to CCSS
Assessment – Writing to Sources (Shift 2)
Using textual evidence is also important when
assessing writing. CCSS-aligned writing prompts ask
students to make claims or inferences about text(s),
or to integrate information in texts, and to refer
specifically to the text(s) in their response.
PAGE 26
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – Writing to Sources
Traditional,
De-contextualized Writing Prompt
Write a letter to your school
principal in which you argue for
or against the idea of increasing
the budget of the school football
team.
CCSS-Aligned Writing Prompt
In his inaugural address,
Thomas Jefferson directly or
indirectly refers to several
freedoms that Americans enjoy.
Explain which freedoms
Jefferson sees as most
important for the success of the
new nation and explain why
they are important. Support your
response with evidence from the
address.
(Grade 11 aligned item based on an excerpt from Jefferson’s Inaugural Address, 1801)
W.11.1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid
reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
W.11.9: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
PAGE 27
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – Writing to Sources
Traditional
Brief Constructed-Response Question
Based on your knowledge of
modern dance, do you agree that
dance is a symbol of the
performance of living? Explain
why or why not.
CCSS-Aligned
Brief Constructed-Response Question
In her interview, how does
Graham introduce and develop
the argument that dance is the
symbol of the performance of
living?
(Grade 9 aligned item based on “An Athlete of God,” a radio interview with Martha Graham.)
RL.9.3: Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which
the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between
them.
RL.91: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well
as inferences drawn from the text.
W.9.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information
clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
W.9.9: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
PAGE 28
Comparing Traditional Assessment to CCSS
Assessment – Informational Text (Shift 3)
As students progress through the grades, they need
to become more skillful at reading high-quality
complex informational text, so that they are ready
for the demands of college and careers. Literature is
also important and does not go away! But
assessments should present an increasing proportion
of high-quality informational texts—texts that are
worth reading.
PAGE 29
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – Informational Text
How do we evaluate whether or not an informational
text is content-rich? Here are some guidelines:
• Most texts should be previously published because
published texts have been accepted and edited by
professional publication editors.
•
Whether previously published or not, a text must reflect
a professional editing process and represent excellence
in the author’s craft, e.g.,
– Its content must be tightly and clearly structured
– Its content must be comprehensive and error free
– History/social studies or science/technical content,
specifically, must reflect the kind of writing that is produced
by authorities in the particular academic discipline.
PAGE 30
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – Informational Text
How to evaluate informational texts, continued
• Many of the informational texts on assessments should
use informational text structures rather than a narrative
structure, so that students are challenged with text
structures similar to what they will encounter in college
and careers. (Informational texts with narrative
structures will usually be history or literary nonfiction
rather than science and technical subjects.)
• Whether previously published or not, a text must enable
students to develop rich content knowledge.
PAGE 31
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – Informational Text
Traditional Assessment Text
Content-Rich Assessment Text
. . . Lake Baikal is not only the
deepest lake in the world; it is
unusual in many other ways. It has
a lot of biodiversity; more than
1500 species of animals and
plants live in the lake, many of
which cannot be found living
anywhere else in the world. There
are especially a lot of snails and
shrimp-like animals everywhere in
the lake, enjoying its cool
temperatures and clean, deep
water. Scientists travel from all
over the world to study the many
life forms living in Lake Baikal.
. . . Scientists have also discovered that
Lake Baikal contains a large variety of
living things. For example, there are
147 species of snails and 255 species
of shrimp-like animals. Many of the
plant and animal species in the lake are
found nowhere else. A comparison to
Lake Tahoe, in Nevada, shows how
unusual such biodiversity is: Like
Baikal, Tahoe was formed by
movement of tectonic plates, but it is a
much younger lake and has only 2
native species. Baikal has as many as
1500. Many of the species in Baikal
have survived from prehistoric times,
giving scientists important insights into
early life forms.
PAGE 32
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment – Summary
Shift 1: Regular practice with complex text and its academic
language
From
To
Little emphasis on text
complexity
Strong emphasis on text
complexity
Vocabulary questions often
focused on prior knowledge
rather than context; little
emphasis on tier 2 words
Vocabulary questions focused
on meaning of words in
context; strong emphasis on
tier 2 words and words
important to central ideas
Figurative language questions
focused on literary terms
Figurative language questions
focused on meaning, not
terms
PAGE 33
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment - Summary
Shift 2: Reading, writing and speaking grounded in evidence
from text, both literary and informational
From
To
Focus on simple recall or
superficial analysis
Focus on careful reading and
analysis of texts
Little or no emphasis on using
textual evidence
Strong emphasis on using
textual evidence
Decontextualized writing
prompts
Writing to sources
PAGE 34
Comparing Traditional Assessment
to CCSS Assessment - Summary
Shift 3: Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction
From
To
Equal representation of
informational and literary
texts; limited focus on the
quality of informational texts
More informational texts as
students move through the
grades; greater focus on
content-rich informational
texts at all grades
PAGE 35
Additional Resources:
• There are several sites that provide more CCSSaligned items.
1. For PARCC sample items and practice tests, grades
3-11, go to www.parcconline.org.
2. For SBAC practice tests, grades 3 – high school, go
to www.smarterbalanced.org.
3. For mini-assessments that can be used in the
classroom, go to www.achievethecore.org and
click on the “Assessment Questions” tab.
• Information about the Shifts can be found at:
http://achievethecore.org/content/upload/122113_S
hifts.pdf
PAGE 36
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about
CCSS-aligned assessments!

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