High School

Stepping Out!
STATE voluntarily adopted new, more rigorous
academic standards in 2010 to support our students
by providing them with an education that not only
leads to a high school diploma, but also prepares
them for success after graduation—whether it is
college or the workforce. Local school districts
have developed their own curriculum to meet the
new standards, and teachers have enhanced their
daily instruction to help our students stay on track.
However, higher standards alone are not enough to
ensure that our students receive the excellent
education they deserve. We also need high-quality
assessments to measure students’ progress
toward the new standards. The organization that
is responsible for developing the assessments in our
state is the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness
for College and Careers (PARCC).
1. Why do we need a new assessment?
The PARCC assessments reflect K-12 standards that are
aligned with postsecondary expectations. They will not only
evaluate students’ progress, but also show teachers and
families where a student needs help or is excelling so they are
able to personalize instruction to meet individual student
These tests will help us ensure all students, regardless of
income or family background, have equal access to a worldclass education that will prepare them for success. The
PARCC assessments serve as an educational GPS system,
assessing where a student currently is so educators can
determine the best route for that student toward career and
college readiness.
Save the Date!
Testing window begins in XXX for PARCC part 1:
The performance-based open-ended response assessment.
Testing window begins XXX for PARCC Part 2:
The end-of-year assessment.
2. How is this better than the previous state
PARCC assessments are tests worth taking made up of texts
worth reading and problems worth solving. They provide a
more accurate picture of student understanding than previous
tests because they ask students to show and apply what they
know, instead of just picking the correct answer from a
multiple-choice question. The high school assessments reflect
what students must know each year as they build toward the
knowledge and skills needed for success in college and
During the high school English language arts/literacy exam,
students analyze the ideas and arguments of others and learn to
strengthen their understanding of how to make their own
arguments in both speech and writing. The mathematics exam
asks students to show their procedural skills, conceptual
understanding and modeling and application skills, with a
particular focus on deepening their understanding of
connections among expressions, equations and functions;
geometric ideas including transformations, similarity,
congruence and proof; and statistics and probability.
By letting students know they are on track before they
graduate, the PARCC assessment opens the door to college
and careers and gives them a ticket to enter directly into
credit-bearing courses.
Stepping Out!
3. Who helped create the test?
Classroom teachers and other local educators from YOUR
STATE have dedicated thousands of hours to the
development of the PARCC tests and will continue to be
involved at every step of the test and report design process.
More than 30 educators and other experts, including parents
and community members, reviewed each test question.
Higher education professors and instructors have also
collaborated alongside classroom teachers since the beginning
to ensure the assessments track students’ progress toward
college and career readiness.
4. What does the test look like?
Some PARCC test questions may look unfamiliar. While old
tests were looking for the right answer, these tests are also
looking for evidence that the student understands and can
apply concepts.
The PARCC test is broken into two sections and given at two
different times, in order to measure various kinds of
knowledge and skills.
The early spring, performance-based component includes
longer questions that usually require multiple steps. It
measures critical thinking, reasoning and the ability to apply
skills and knowledge in reading, writing and mathematics.
Students participate in the end-of-year component shortly
before the end of the school year. This consists of innovative,
short-answer questions to measure concepts and skills. They
also show understanding of mathematics concepts,
procedures and short applications.
Visit parcconline.org to try one of the practice tests for
5. What role does technology play? Why are the
tests computer-based?
In a globally competitive era, 21st century technology should
be available for all students, not just an option for some. In
fact, YOUR STATE and YOUR DISTRICT are working to
increase student access to technology as a tool for enriching
In our SCHOOL /DISTRICT /STATE, students will take the
based assessments. Insert STATE/DISTRICT specific information
on plans to move toward CBT if they are currently offering pencil
and paper. Because there are far more accommodations built
into the computer test, all students will have the opportunity
to show what they know on their own.
Technology tools, such as the highlighter, line reader and
magnifier, promote student independence. The students are
the drivers of their own testing experience which gives them
confidence. Students can change the text size or have the
computer read to them. Most of these tools are available to
any student; however, some accommodations require prior
documentation. Students can run through a technology
tutorial and become confident in using the technologies prior
to taking the PARCC assessments.
6. How long do the tests take? Are there
different times for different students?
PARCC assessments are designed to measure what students
truly know and can do in each grade level. Today’s students
need to develop solid thinking and reasoning skills, which
PARCC aims to measure. These types of skills take time to
demonstrate on high-quality test questions. However, this
does not mean that more time is taken away from instruction.
In fact, the new test design actually translates into more time
focused on the kinds of tasks that prepare our students for
their next step, rather than spending time on memorization
and test prep.
Most students will spend about four hours each on the
mathematics and English language arts/literacy portions of
the test. Those will be broken down into smaller units that
will take most students 40 to 60 minutes each, though schools
will schedule up to 90 minutes for each unit to make sure that
all students have the time they need. Most students will only
participate in testing for an hour or two at most in a day and
only for a few days during the testing window.
Students with disabilities and English learners may have more
time, if identified in IEP, 504 plans, or EL plans in states that
require them.
7. Which math test does my student take?
Algebra I, II and geometry or mathematics
I, II, and III
Every student’s pathway in high school mathematics may be
Stepping Out!
8. What information will I get about my
student’s educational progress?
The PARCC assessments will demonstrate to high schools,
families, students, colleges, universities and employers the
extent to which students have mastered English and
mathematics content skills to ensure their success in entrylevel, postsecondary courses and careers.
enrollment opportunities or accelerated learning classes (e.g.,
AP courses). All students will receive information about their
performance during their high school years, so they can work
with their teachers to decide what interventions they may
need to catch up if they are not yet on track.
You can read more about the PARCC college- and careerready determination here: http://www.parcconline.org/CCRD
PARCC scores will also serve as an early indicator, as far
back as middle school, to teachers, students and parents
signaling whether students are on track for college and
careers. This will enable interventions for students prior to
and during their senior years. Students who show they are
proficient on the assessments will be exempt from taking
remedial courses prior to college, saving their family from
spending money on remediation courses that earn no
college credit.
10. What can I do to support my student?
PARCC and educators in YOUR STATE have partnered to
design a student assessment report that is easy to
understand and provides detailed information on how your
child is progressing and where extra support may be
needed. The report is intended to help you work with your
student’s teachers and school officials so you all can
decide how best to support your child’s needs. Look for
helpful links to access more information.
Today’s students may learn subjects in new ways that are
different from how you and I learned when we were in
school. Don’t worry; you can still help your child by praising
progress, using resources that teachers send home, and
communicating directly with teachers.
9. What is a college-and-career ready
determination and what does it mean for
my student?
PARCC implementation represents a paradigm shift away
from traditional postsecondary placement testing toward
using students’ high school performance to measure college
readiness and holding states accountable for providing
students with the academic foundation they need to
successfully access postsecondary opportunities. More than
700 colleges and universities in PARCC states are
participating in the development of the PARCC assessments
with the objective of using them to determine readiness for
Performance on the PARCC assessments will provide clear
messages to students, counselors, parents and teachers about
what students must accomplish to graduate high school ready
to enter college credit-bearing courses at public colleges and
universities without remediation.
Students who earn a PARCC college- and career-ready
determination during high school may choose to explore dual
The best place to begin is to talk with your child’s teacher to
determine which skills to reinforce at home. Visit your
student’s classroom; you will see some new approaches that
our teachers are using with students to prepare them for
college and careers. Attend parent-teacher conferences and
talk with teachers about your child’s strengths and
weaknesses. Ask how you can best support your child at
You do not have to be an expert in a subject to help with
homework. Show your student that you think homework is
important. One of the best ways that parents can help is by
asking supportive questions about homework and projects
done in school.
At home, read both non-fiction and fiction, with and in front
of your child, and discuss what you read. Make a habit of
having daily chats with your kids. Ask them to research
different options for college and jobs. Explore books,
programs and articles that address the topics of interest.
Observe his or her strengths and reinforce skills used to find
answers or solve problems. Encourage your child to use the
knowledge he or she has acquired and then apply it to other

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