Friday, 9 October 2015

Teachers Turn to Twitter for Solutions, Connection

Educators say the social media platform offers immediacy and practicality lacking from school PD programs

For several years, growing numbers of teachers have been taking to Twitter to network and learn from other educators, often through education-related chat groups.

There are now dozens of Twitter communities for teachers, featuring weekly scheduled chats as well as continuous, ongoing discussions. Most every kind of K-12 niche is represented, often many times over: Science, English, leadership, professional associations, and state-based educator connections are all represented.

But even as so many online Twitter communities flourish—as old ones get bigger, new ones sprout up, and even school PD coordinators start to jump on the bandwagon—the value of Twitter as a source for professional learning remains anecdotal.

"We have recent converts who have tons of enthusiasm for what they're doing [on Twitter], then they turn to their peers, and their peers say, 'OK that's great, show me the results, show me the difference it makes,' " said Mark Weston, an author and ed-tech researcher who helps moderate the ubiquitous #edchat. "And we as a profession don't have an answer."

Still, many teachers maintain the professional development they get from Twitter is better than what they get through their schools—in part, they argue, because it offers opportunities for dialogue and continuous feedback from fellow educators that much school-provided PD does not.

"Twitter has afforded teachers that opportunity of engaging with each other in a professional way that doesn't really occur in their school or district," said Weston.

Professional Discourse

There's no foolproof way to gauge how many practicing educators participate in Twitter chats, or even how many are on Twitter to begin with. #Edchat is the granddaddy of education Twitter chats, having grown so big that "#edchat" is now the de facto hashtag for thousands of education-related tweets each week; a casual observer might forget that there is still a scheduled weekly chat associated with the brand. (Two, actually, every Tuesday.)

How is it that a continuous stream of 140-character snippets is inviting or helpful to teachers?

For the uninitiated educator, it might not appear to be helpful at all.

The kinds of instructional changes that come about because of Twitter chats tend to be "small and incremental," said Brian Sztabnik, a high school English teacher in Long Island, N.Y., who founded #APlitchat about a year ago, geared toward Advanced Placement English teachers. But Sztabnik noted that the conversations can also expand teachers' understanding of a topic or issue in their field.
On a Monday evening late this past summer, members of #APlitchat debated the merits of teaching excerpts of literature, as opposed to whole novels. The Common Core State Standards, with their emphasis on close reading, have pushed many educators to reconsider teaching whole novels and instead use selected portions, a move detested by some English teachers.

On one side of the chat was a vocal component of teachers uninterested in excerpted text, while others argued for its usefulness.

Sztabnik finds that kind of discourse fulfilling: "I thought you shouldn't really excerpt text because it doesn't do justice to [the book]. But then you see other people articulate reasons why you should. And I don't know if I would necessarily change completely, but [the chat] allows you to be more, perhaps, empathetic, more understanding that there's more than one way to skin a cat."

High school English teacher Kristen Nielsen of Baltimore County public schools is a follower of #APlitchat, where she first heard of the "two perfect sentences," a strategy for literacy instruction proposed by Wisconsin teacher Brian Durst to meet common-core expectations.

"In some ways, the #APlitchat is revolutionizing what I'm willing to do this year in terms of more direct instruction," Nielsen said. "Looking at how I can teach analysis in a more discrete and concrete way to a bunch of different types of thinkers."

Nielsen says she doesn't "do Facebook, and I don't really like social media much." But she started playing with Twitter after hearing about a chat being conducted by the National Council of Teachers of English, which had invited novelist Laurie Halse Anderson to be a special guest.

Nielsen finds such chats to be more stimulating than the in-school PD she is often prescribed. "So often, it's bought by the county, people are paid that don't have any real knowledge of students or what is needed; instead, they're just selling their product," she said.

But many school leaders are beginning to see Twitter's value as a professional learning tool. Adam Welcome, the principal of Montair Elementary School, in Danville, Calif., said he works to establish a school culture in which teachers are encouraged, though not required, to experiment with social media for professional development.

"Teaching isn't that collaborative," Welcome said. "Twitter opens up your classroom all the time, every day, all day."

It also gives teachers opportunities to share content on an ongoing basis and establish lasting dialogues with other educators.

"If you go to a one-day Saturday seminar, you can't get that," Welcome said. "[But] this is happening right now, in the classroom, and it's free, and you can do it from your phone. If your principal says, 'Put your phones away"—they're wrong, because it's a teaching tool."

Seeking Community

Teachers might turn to Twitter because of a PD vacuum at the local level, but it may also take some time to get what they're looking for.

Rusul Alrubail, a former college educator in Canada who's now an education consultant and writer, joined Twitter a year ago, and for a while, was unable to find good discussions reflecting her interest: social justice in a school context.

"Not seeing it on Twitter felt like, well, I guess educators are not allowed to talk about that kind of stuff because they don't have to go through that, they don't have to deal with issues of race because Twitter is all white," Alrubail said.

Alrubail then found the #educolor group, a community focused on intersectional issues in K-12 education.

"There was a hashtag for it, there's a chat that's going on [where] we're going to talk about this issue," Alrubail said. "So I said, 'I have to join.' "

She is now a full-fledged #educolor member.

Founder José Vilson said that #educolor occupies a unique space between advocacy and professional development—not quite an #edchat derivative, but still a "safe space" where teachers of any color can delve into cultural issues.

"Cultural competence is professional competence," said Vilson, a middle school math teacher in New York City. "How do you actually treat your students if you don't know who they are?"

Vilson added that there's been a demand for PD materials focused on cultural competency, which the #educolor movement provides on its website as well as within its robust Twitter community.

"When the Trayvon Martin situation happened, I got a lot of emails and comments from teachers—white teachers as well as teachers of color—saying, 'We need resources,' " he said, referring to the young black man fatally shot by a neighborhood-watch volunteer in Florida in 2012.

And other groups, like #HipHopEd and the organization Teaching Tolerance, have also been working to draw diverse conversations to Twitter's K-12 practitioners.

Teachers Engaging Teachers

Despite the resources and connections to be found on Twitter, not all teachers want social media shoved down their throats. Sztabnik, who also runs the Talks With Teachers podcast and co-founded another Twitter group, #edugeekchat, said he used to push colleagues toward Twitter, but has backed off in recent months.

"It's almost like you feel you're a proselytizer, and that just has a bad vibe," he said.

Putting aside concerns about spending precious time adapting to Twitter's frenetic pace, there's also the fact that some teachers—and, best to sit down for this, it may come as a shock—do enjoy having a personal life.

"It's tough to tell someone after spending a full day of school teaching, to go home for an hour and hop on a Twitter chat and talk more about teaching," Sztabnik said. "There's something to be said for being a teacher and then being an individual person outside of school and having your own identity."
To Weston, the #edchat moderator, it doesn't matter where professional conversations take place, so long as they do.

"Good things happen when teachers engage with other teachers about teaching," he said. "And that's true whether it's in the hall in their school, on Twitter, on Facebook, or church."

Friday, 25 September 2015

The digital learning plan every educator should read

North Carolina’s brand new Digital Learning Plan is generating buzz in schools and at the capitol. Here’s what other states can learn
DLP-learningLike every state, educators in North Carolina are struggling with complex demands around digital learning.

In the era of personalized learning-meets-BYOD, and with a big push on 21st century skills, districts and education leaders can still feel pretty isolated as they work out where to go next. And conveying their needs to state legislators, who often have the power to regulate funding and set the pace for any statewide digital initiatives, can be yet another challenge.

“A lot of people tell us that these kinds of digital initiatives get written at the Capitol, when the focus should be on engaging stakeholders at every level,” said Jenifer Corn, the director of evaluation programs at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation.

When the state’s department of education decided to educate lawmakers, district leaders, and other stakeholders and set North Carolina’s digital learning future, they turned to Corn’s organization to do it in a systematic, data-driven way that gave a voice to nearly every educator in the state.

Recently, the Friday Institute released the results of that 18-month-long effort, the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan, which outlines both recommendations and specific goals for education leaders and policymakers around digital-learning related topics, such as infrastructure and devices, professional development, instruction and assessment, and funding.

The DLP is, in part, a response to two new state laws passed in the last legislative session — that schools must transition to digital resources by 2017 and that colleges of education, teachers, and administrators would be responsible for meeting new digital competencies. The state’s department of education contracted with the Friday Institute on how to implement those goals simultaneously.

In response to that charge, the Friday Institute, a policy and research land-grant which is part of the college of education at North Carolina State University, began by checking in with districts one by one. They criss-crossed the state conducting needs assessments and asset management surveys. They spoke with all 115 local education agencies and held town hall meetings. And, during that process, they collected a lot of data.

“This was the first time every bit of the institute was touched by the same work,” Corn explained. “We were building buy in so [everyone] really felt like this wasn’t the Friday Institute telling people what to do, but it was reflecting back to the folks in Raleigh about what was happening.”

A digital snapshot
In addition to those deep dives, the institute also developed an ed-tech rubric and assessed every district’s digital progress. “For the first time,” Corn said, “we have a snapshot of where every district in the state falls along a continuum about where they thought they were in terms of readiness in technology.”

As might be expected, few districts are in truly advanced stages of their digital transitions. According to results from the rubric, about 19 percent of districts in the state confessed to only just beginning to move toward digital, while just six percent rated themselves advanced. The vast majority said they were in a developing stage.

For them, the DLP might serve as something of a roadmap, or at least a set of goals to aspire to. While many of the recommendations can be read as a call to action for statewide organizations and leaders, specific goals — spelling out the skills and resources teachers, administrators, and schools should possess as they enter more advanced stages of their digital transitions — can help school and district leaders at every level in their planning.

An example of the recommendations and goals from the Human Capacity section. Click image for full size.

Of interest to both lawmakers and educators, the DLP makes recommendations around providing flexible professional development for district-level staff and principals, as well as the creation of a larger network of PD facilitators devoted to helping teachers adjust to digital learning concepts, such as blended instruction. It also suggests beefing up regional and statewide collaborations to support local educators and developing sustainable funding models. Of course, many of these initiatives will require new funding, and the report takes pains to spell out where federal money can step in and what, exactly, the state might be on the hook for.

“It’s been quite a budgetary fight,” Corn said about working with legislators to secure those funds. “But we did get an increase in textbook allotment and school connectivity. We didn’t get everything we asked for but because of the Digital Learning Plan and the conversations we’ve been having, at a time when our state budgets have been fiscally conservative, they did give increases in those two areas.”

Right now, Corn and her team are talking up the DLP to legislators and continuing their work. A toolkit for district tech directors is in the works and they are in the early stages of considering a data clearinghouse that education leaders can use to more easily find out what kinds of technology their colleagues across the state are buying — and using.

The overall goal of the DLP, she said, was to make it easier for everyone to come to grips with a digital world, no matter what their role in education. “The model that we developed, it could certainly be applied to other states,” Corn said. “This is about changing the role of the teacher in the classroom, changing the way school works. It’s not about the devices or the technology.”

Monday, 21 September 2015

Five Essentials for Basic Classroom Management

Classroom management. It’s the one thing you wish they had covered more extensively in your educator prep program. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of easy solutions to share. The book won’t give you all the answers to the challenges you will face throughout your tenure as an educator. It’s something that develops slowly throughout a career, constantly in adjustment, and constantly revised and reworked. Although there’s no “one size fits all” for classroom management, Education World has some tips for how to begin thinking about the facilitation of your classroom’s natural personality. 

Meet the parents. Including the parents and guardians of your child into your behavioral and academic plans can be an incredibly powerful tool in any educator’s toolbox. Different parents generally prefer different levels of contact with the school, however, so pay close attention to their needs. Find out how your parents and guardians prefer to be contacted: email, text, notes home, meetings, phone calls…and what kinds of communication they want. Some parents want to know immediately when their child misses an assignment or refuses to work in class – having their child pull out their cell phone and call them at work might be just the trick. Others might prefer to only be alerted when their child’s grade average slips below a particular number – this could be a more formal in-person meeting. The point is to connect with your parents to set both goals and expectations together, finding out where your classroom flow meets their home flow. And please, find a platform to communicate both success as well as concerns – a little celebration can go a long way in encouraging academic behavior.

You’ll never win. What?! Sounds worse than it is. Be wary of confrontations with students. Taking a page from the Love and Logic Institute, the reality is that when a confrontation is created between you and a student, you have nothing to lose, while that student has everything to lose. Remember, they are in front of their peers – their social group – everything they have built as an identity in the school is at risk and now on stage. A student would rather push you until they are sent out of the room than to lose whatever clout they’ve worked so hard to maintain. So what does this mean? Give them the illusion of power. When confrontations arise, make them private. Lower your voice to have a personal, respectful conversation with your student. Give that student choices, so that they feel they have the autonomy to decide their future (as opposed to feeling cornered with nowhere to go) – they can either focus in on their work, take a quick breather outside and then come back to work, or go see the school’s counselor. Then walk away. Most of all, empathize with your student. They’re never looking to disappoint you.

Plan for success. Believe it or not, the most powerful method of preventing classroom disruption before it starts lies in the lesson plan. Nothing beats a well-orchestrated, timed, UDL-conscious, and engaging lesson to keep students on task and focused. Students need to be clear about their learning goals for the day: without the “why are we doing this” addressed, it’ll be difficult to motivate any meaningful learning. Keeping the lesson varied allows students to not get stuck on any one thing. Minilessons are short and to the point, the modeling was clear and engaging, students work alone for a bit, then share with a peer for a bit, then work in groups for a bit, maybe moving around a little before coming back as a class for the wrap-up. Differentiate texts whenever possible, by choosing interesting content, using sites that manipulate reading levels, or by assigning small pieces of a text for deeper reading. Assignments should give students choices – even small ones – on how they can show you their learning. Capitalize on your students’ natural curiosity and have the flexibility to allow their questions to drive your instruction, as it aligns with your standards. Keeping these elements in mind at the planning stage of things can make the execution seamless, and more importantly, exciting for the learner.

Find your voice. This is easier said than done. Your classroom persona plays heavily into whether or not a management strategy will work for you. Some teachers succeed with humor; some with a stern face. Some capitalize on emotional connection; some use tough love. If you find yourself struggling with your current management tools, start by doing some observations. What’s working for other teachers in your building? This doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. However, observing your peers will absolutely give you new things to try. The key here is to be consistent. Students want that structure and stability your classroom provides. They need to know how you tick – from expectations to consequences. So when you are introducing a new strategy, be honest with them about what’s happening. Don’t be afraid to tell them that something wasn’t working for you in the classroom, you have a new plan to improve upon it, and that you’ll need their help to make it work. You’ll be surprised by how quickly students will respect and appreciate your honesty and straightforwardness. Having said that, be sure to plan time to reassess the new strategy and decide if it works with who you are in the classroom.

Know your kids. This might sound cliché, but it’s something we can sometimes put on the back-burner when things get difficult. When a student is struggling, he or she is much more likely to work with someone they feel is on their team. This takes both time and energy, but it is one of the secrets of the veteran teacher, and well-worth the effort. Notice them. What do they do when they are outside of school? What is their passion? What’s home like? Where’s their family from? Compliment their new sneakers, their purple hair. Arrange to catch one of their gymnastics meets or their basketball games—or see their band play. Check out their mix tape – even if you only listen to 30 seconds. In education, we speak a lot about schools being families or being an active part of the community. The kids need to see that. At the end of the day, a student will hardly ever rage a campaign against a member of their own fan club. The moment you feel that energy pressing against you, press back with interest.

What works in your class? Comment with other key classroom management tips below. Written by Keith Lambert, Education World Contributor Lambert is a certified English Language Arts teacher and teacher trainer in Connecticut.

Written by Keith Lambert, Education World Contributor

Lambert is a certified English / Language Arts teacher and teacher trainer in Connecticut. Source:

Friday, 11 September 2015

13 Interesting Back To School Facts

Here are a few fun and valuable facts about education and back to school that you can share with your children.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Early Results from Common Core Tests Show Academic Gains

Some states have begun to report the results of their Common Core-aligned state standardized tests from the 2014–2015 school year, and so far, most are showing increases in student achievement.
States that have reported results so far include Arizona, Idaho, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia. Of those, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia were part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, while Arizona, Missouri and New York used their own state-administered assessments (AzMERIT, MAP and EngageNY). Results from Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) are not yet available.
For the first time, Arizona students in third through eleventh grade took the AzMERIT test, and the state released preliminary results this month. As many educators expected because of the test's increased rigor, the results show that most students aren't proficient in math or reading. The state will release final results in October.
Idaho students in grades three through eight and grade 10 took the Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) by Smarter Balanced. While the state will release its final results in October, preliminary results released in July show that students outperformed the projections set by Smarter Balanced. In English, fourth-grade students had the lowest average scores, with 46 percent of students scoring as proficient or above; and 10th-grade students had the highest average scores, with 61 percent of students scoring as proficient or above. In math, 10th-grade students had the lowest average scores, with only 30 percent of students scoring as proficient or above. Third graders had the highest average scores, with 50 percent of students scoring as proficient or above.
Missouri students in grades three through eight took the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests after taking the Smarter Balanced field tests the year before. On average, students performed better on this year's MAP tests, which included SBAC items, than they did on the Smarter Balanced field tests last year. According to preliminary results, about 59.7 percent of students passed the English language arts MAP test, but just over 45 percent passed the math test.
New York
New York students in grades three through eight took the EngageNY tests in English language arts and math for the third year in a row, and preliminary results show that they made slight gains this year.
In Oregon, third- through eighth-graders and eleventh-graders took the Smarter Balanced tests this year, and preliminary results show they performed "better than anticipated," according to a statement from the Oregon Department of Education. Students are scored on a four-point scale, and those with a score of 3 or 4 are considered on track to graduate from high school prepared for college and career. In English language arts, third-graders had the lowest average scores, with 47 percent of students scoring 3 or 4; and 11th-graders had the highest average scores, with 69 percent of students scoring 3 or 4. In math, 11th-graders had the lowest average scores, with 31 percent of students scoring 3 or 4; and third-graders had the highest average scores, with 47 percent of students scoring 3 or 4. The state expects these scores to drop as final results come in.
Students in Washington generally scored better on this year's Smarter Balanced assessments than they did on last year's field tests. In English language arts, third-graders had the lowest average scores, with 53 percent meeting standards; and 10th- and 11th-graders had the highest average scores, with 62 percent meeting standards. In math, 11th-graders had the lowest average scores, with only 29 percent meeting standards; and third-graders had the highest average scores, with 57 percent meeting standards.
West Virginia
Students in West Virginia exceeded national projections in English language arts, but not in math, except in third grade, where students exceeded projections in both tests. Students in grades three through eleven took the Smarter Balanced tests this year. In English language arts, ninth-graders had the lowest average scores, with 38 percent scoring as proficient; and fifth-graders had the highest average scores, with 51 percent scoring as proficient. In math, 10th-graders had the lowest average scores, with only 15 percent scoring as proficient; and third-graders had the highest average scores, with 44 percent scoring as proficient.
Chad Colby, director of Strategic Communications and Outreach for the education reform organization, Achieve, said he expects to see similar results when the final scores are released later this year.
Karen Nussle, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success, is similarly optimistic. “As we’ve seen in states like Washington, Oregon, Missouri, West Virginia and now New York, when states raise the bar, students are prepared to meet the academic challenge — and have shown that they are on track to becoming better prepared academically for life after high school,” she told

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

PracTutor Summer learning Program for Math and English

21st May, 2015 - Louisville, KY. PracTutor, the awesome personalized learning platform for K-8 students has announced the launch of its summer learning program. Implausibly, they are offering their complete program for FREE for summer 2015. Children can use the PracTutor Math and ELA modules worth $29.95/month FREE for 2 months.

Why to launch a summer program?                   

Extended summer break is found to create a learning loss for nearly all the students. As per the research, students lose up to two and a half months of Math skills and two months of English reading skills during this period. This creates a learning gap that is hard to mitigate.

Considering this, PracTutor Team decided to give its program for free for two months, so that all the students can benefit from the fabulous online learning environment.

Children can use PracTutor to revise what they have already learned, complete concepts that they missed during the school year, and explore concepts for the coming year.  

They can prevent the summer slide easily by using PracTutor for just thirty-minutes, twice a week.

Being an online learning program, adds to its advantages, as children can practice from any digital and mobile device that has an Internet connection.
Coupon Code: Summer15

You can explore the FREE PracTutor Summer Program at and use the coupon code to avail the benefit of two months free-access.

To summarize, PracTutor and its fun-filled personalized environment should be an ideal tool to engage children with their summer study sessions, while they master the concepts.

PracTutor Overview

PracTutor is an online adaptive education portal for the K-8 students to practice math and English with the curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core Standards. Apart from integrated math and English practice, the PARCC and SBAC aligned assessments and interventions as per RTI are the core features of PracTutor.

PracTutor is a comprehensive math and English education system. It brings parents, teachers, school administrators and mentors together to ensure that no child is left behind.

PracTutor is cloud-based. There is no need to install, update, or maintain any software. It works on Mac, Windows, Chrome books, iPads - any system, any browser, and any device. It is accessible from anywhere and at any hour.

Join PracTutor

Friday, 3 April 2015

PARCC Overview For Teachers and Parents

What is the need to introduce a fresh set of high-stake assessments- tests that are difficult, and time-consuming?
As the testing season progresses, parents and teachers are continuously raising these questions, and desire to understand the need to introduce new standards that necessitate a novel style of instruction and learning.
In this article, we answer these questions, and explain why the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and standards-based assessments score over the present-day "teaching for the test" environment.
The Common Core State Standards
In 2009, a teacher’s consortium, with states-wide representation released an innovative set of academic standards. These standards act as an achievement guide for school districts, school management and teachers.
Instead of telling teachers what students should be taught, Common Core defines what students should learn in their respective grade.
In brief, CCSS defines the learning-expectations for grade 1 to 12 in Math and English.
The new standards attempt to enhance the quality of K12 education, and provide our high-school graduates with skills essential for career and college.
This aims at addressing the skill-gap haunting the dismal job-market and providing students with skills needed for the new-age work-environment.
[Tweet "Enter your CCSS defines the learning-expectations for grade 1 to 12 in Math and English."]

Key advances of Common Core

The standards build upon the current-day state standards, and incorporate various advances based on the learning standards employed across the globe.
These advances anchor themselves in the concept of Career and college readiness, or CCR.

Key advances in CCSS Math

  1. The new standards pay more attention on clarity, coherence and focus on concepts.
    For each grade, CCSS defines a certain number of important topics. And suggests a model that ensures coherent progress of each student.
  2. Common Core Standards pay attention on enhancing procedural fluency, and basic understanding of concepts and skills.
  3. They pay more attention on increasing rigor in grade level mathematics, so that students develop procedural fluency based on reasoning and understanding of concepts across the grades.
  4. Teach mathematics at high school as per conceptual categories.

Key advances in CCSS English

  1. Most important of shifts in CCSS English is emphasizing compulsory attention on real-life texts and informational-texts.
  2. They pay greater attention on preparing students for higher text complexity;
  3. More emphasis on argument, informative/explanatory writing and research;
  4. Speaking and listening skills;
  5. It clarifies literary standards for history, science, and technical subjects.

Standardized Testing

Adopting new standards also necessitates modern assessments.
Standardized testing measures student-growth and achievement, and informs teachers regarding instruction.

The PARCC Assessments

Schools administering PARCC assessments will have five assessments on their table.
These assessments will have either a summative or a non-summative component or both. Administrable at different intervals, these assessments will provide the schools, teachers and parents with data to improve student performance.
[Tweet "Information from formative assessments help teachers under the effectiveness of their instruction, and guides their efforts and activities in subsequent courses."]

Purpose of PARCC Assessments

  1. Inform whether students are on-track for success;
  2. Assess students for the full range of Common Core Standards;
  3. Provide student performance data during the academic year;
  4. Provide useable data to inform instruction, interventions and professional development;
  5. Provide data for accountability.

Components of PARCC Assessments

1. Summative Assessment Components

It evaluates student learning of an instructional unit by comparing their performance against some standard or benchmark.
These are often high-stake, which means that they have a high point value.
Information from summative assessments is formative; and help teachers and students to guide their efforts and activities in subsequent courses.

2. Non-Summative Assessment Components

It is a collection of standards-based, non-summative assessment practices.
These assessments provide a model of how to build standard mastery through the school year. They also provide opportunities for students to have opportunities to experience more challenging tasks by the end of the school year.
PARCC assessments provide deep evidence that teachers can analyze whether students are on-track at applying CCSS expectations.

5 Components of PARCC Assessment

  1. Diagnostic assessments report student’s knowledge and skills.
    Schools and teachers can tailor instruction, student-supports and professional-development programs to meet student’s needs.
    These are non-summative and optional assessments.
  1. Mid-year assessments comprise of performance-based items and tasks, with an emphasis on hard-to-measure standards.
    After study, individual states may consider including as a summative component.
    They too are non-summative and optional assessments.
  1. Performance-based assessments (PBA) are compulsory assessments, administered close to the end of the school year as possible.
    ELA/literacy PBA will focus on writing effectively when analyzing text; while mathematics PBA focuses on applying skills, concepts, and understandings to solve multi-step problems requiring abstract reasoning, precision, perseverance, and strategic use of tools.
  1. End-of-Year assessments (EOY) are summative and compulsory assessments, and administered after approx. 90% of the school year.
    The ELA/literacy EOY focuses on reading comprehension; and math EOY comprises of innovative, machine-scorable items.
  1. Speaking and listening assessments are optional assessments.
    They will measures how well students absorb information by listening, and how skillfully they communicate that knowledge orally.
    Teachers will score students based on student-produced content based on what they present or what they hear.

Shifts in Math and ELA/L)expectations

Major shift in ELA/L expectations

  1. Read sufficiently complex texts independently;
  2. Write effectively to source;
  3. Build and present knowledge through research.

Major shift in Math expectations

  1. Solve problems: content and mathematical practice;
  2. Reason mathematically;
  3. Model real-world problems;
  4. Have fluency with mathematics.

Goals of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers  (PARCC)

  1. Create high-quality assessments

PARCC assessment measures students' fluency, conceptual understanding and application of concepts.
Students need to display their skills critical-thinking skills and problem-solving skills.
PARCC uses summative and non-summative components of testing to provide teachers and students with precise state of student learning and help teachers identify student-strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Build a well guided pathway for high-school students to succeed with college

PARCC ensures that teachers have precise information all throughout the Grade school to enable them to provide proper intervention and ensure effective student support.
Regular testing generates reliable student-achievement data, and ensures that students are on their way to career and college readiness.
In high-school students take tests that generate a college-readiness score to identify students who are ready to handle college-level coursework and those who need intensive instruction.
PARCC reports allow teachers to provide targeted intervention and timely intervention.
Furthermore, teachers get the opportunity to administer bridge-courses to ensure that students have a smoother and successful first year in college.
parcc one

  1. Support educators in the classroom

The advantages of a PARCC assessment are many folds.
They report student’s strengths and weaknesses; help teachers understand the effects of current pedagogy, and adopt changes to improve student performance.

  1. Develop 21st century technology-based assessment

PARCC is a computer-based assessment. A compulsory test leverages the effective use of technology in classrooms.
Furthermore, the accommodations provided by PARCC and SBAC ensure that even the students of SWD and ELL group get an equal opportunity to progress at the same rate.

  1. Increase accountability at all levels

PARCC also attempts to improve accountability at all levels. The reliable and timely data generated by the assessments:
  1. Ensure that schools and districts maintain effectiveness;
  2. Highlight educator effectiveness;
  3. Help map student performance in placement tests.
  4. Allow comparison with other state level and international benchmarks.

PARCC ELA/literacy assessments:

The most important quality that any assessment should have is that they should not distract the class from the learning process and should become natural inheritance to classroom instruction. PARCC designs are evidently easy and exciting.
[Tweet "PARCC provides an opportunity to students of experiencing challenging, real-life tasks by the end of the school year."]

What to expect with PARCC assessments?

  1. More complex texts: Students need to prepare for more real-life problems, and should be comfortable with the embedded academic language.
    Students will have to develop skills for close and careful reading; moreover, the skill of identifying words that pervade the provided text.
  2. Evidence based tasks: Student will have to prepare to answer questions based on evidence, derived from the provided text; be ready to cite evidence rigorously; and generate more evidence-based responses.
[Tweet "For success, students will have to develop skills of accuracy and precision."]
  1. Build Knowledge through provided-text: Student must learn to build knowledge base based on the provided text.
    Questions test students for their critical and problem-solving skills, so students must develop their skill of comparing texts, and synthesizing ideas.

PARCC Math assessments:

  1. More focus on core-standards: For success, students need to master the subject to meet a pre-defined standard.
    As the standards define what a student should know by a specific grade.
    Students who expand their math base to achieve mastery of standard of their particular standard have higher chances of success.
  2. Coherence: students need to focus on their skills of being able to connect two or more concepts to solve a problem.
    They may have to connect more than one concept and create solutions
  3. Rigor: Just like ELA/Literacy standards, students will have to pay attention on mastery of standards.
    They must develop skills of fluency and conceptual understanding; learn procedural skills and concept-application; and be ready to solve questions based on real-world problems.

Benefits of PARCC Assessments:

  1. PARCC will help build a pathway to College and Career Readiness for all students;
  2. It will improve student’s engagement in assessments with innovative tasks and giving access to accommodations;
  3. Increased access to and provision of accommodations for SWDs and ELLs;
  4. Efficient scoring by combining human and automated approaches;
  5. Valid, reliable and timely reports through-out the year to inform instruction, intervention and professional development.

parcc three
Understanding the PARCC Field-Test Report

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) makes testing of student a compulsory task for our school districts.
Unfortunately, the present-day testing, famously known as the bubble tests call for no skill other than memorization and its application.
Testing has become an annual exercise of collecting test scores; of labeling students as a success or failure. In contrast, PARCC assesses students with innovative test items, better accommodations, reliable scoring and timely feedback.
This provides our education system an opportunity to look beyond collection of accountability data and pay attention on student development.