Prepping for PARCC, Part II

kidIn my last post (Prepping for PARCC, Part I) I referenced a conference session I had attended in search of the most up-to-date answers about the upcoming literacy component of the PARCC assessment. I have pages of notes and links and have tried to synthesize that information into this three-part blog series addressing the following recommendations for making the transition to Common Core and preparing for PARCC. Here are the recommendations:

1. Get to know the Common Core State Standards like your job depends on it

2. Get blown away by the PARCC prototypes

3. Start your reflection and analysis engines

This post will focus specifically on Recommendation #2. Stay tuned for Part III where I’ll map out a plan for strengthening planning and reflection practices in a school in light of the new standards and assessment.

Recommendation #2: Get blown away by the PARCC prototypes

Familiarity with the standards is just the tip of this iceberg. In the session I attended, when we got to the released PARCC prototypes two general themes emerged: 1) Principals felt overwhelmed and under-equipped to help their teachers. One principal stood up in the middle of the session and loudly declared, “I’m not smart enough to do this job!” He marched right out of the room and didn’t come back.  2) There was a shared a sense of relief that we were no longer students. The released assessment items are tough. They challenged the adults in the room and brought into sharp focus how these standards will cause students to think more critically and teachers to plan and prepare differently.

Specifically:

  • Share released items. Read them, wrestle with them, and answer them. PARCC Prototypes
  • Determine precisely what teachers need to know and be able to do to prepare students for such rigorous tasks. (For example, do teachers in all content classrooms know how to teach close reading of text? Is the school-wide balance of informational and literary text up to snuff with Common Core and NAEP recommendations?)
  • Determine precisely what students need to know and be able to do to complete the tasks successfully, beyond requisite content knowledge. (For example, do students understand what makes for a strong argument? Do they know how to “drag and drop” using technology?)
  • Examine criteria for creating rigorous lessons/units and PARCC-like assessment items: Criteria for Assessment
  • Design coaching and PD experiences to differentiate and address needs throughout the building.

I’m curious to know what you are doing to prepare for the transition to CCSS and PARCC. Leave your comments below so we can build a bank of strategies to support one another in the cause.

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