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PARCC Assessment

Dear parents and other family members,

Every year, our students take a number of state assessments. We share the results of these assessments with you in order to give you an idea about the progress your child is making in school. We also use the results of these assessments to help us improve classroom instruction and to identify areas where students may need some extra support.

This year, we will introduce the new PARCC (or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) assessments in mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA)/literacy. These assessments will replace the NECAP Mathematics, Reading, and Writing assessments that we have used for the past 9 years.

Another change is that PARCC testing will have two separate testing periods: One in the early spring and another shortly before the end of the school year.

For the PARCC ELA/Literacy tests, all students in grades 3 through 10 will participate. These tests will include both reading and writing in every grade. (Previously, we tested writing in only three grades.)

For the PARCC math tests, most students in grades 3 through 8 will take the mathematics test for their grade level. In high school, however, the test your child will take depends on course enrollment. High-school students will take either PARCC Algebra I or PARCC Geometry, depending on which course they’re taking. High-school students not taking either of these courses will not participate in the math assessments this year.

Students in middle school enrolled in either Algebra I or Geometry will take the PARCC test for their course, rather than the PARCC test for their grade level (for example, PARCC Geometry rather than PARCC Grade 8).

Another exciting change is that students will take PARCC assessments using a computer rather than using paper and pencil. Students will either be using the desktop computers in the computer labs or use chromebooks. We have ordered 14 chromebook carts for the district (30 chromebooks per cart.) A chromebook is similar to a laptop in look and feel, but it does not have the typical programs such as Word or Excel. It operates only using Google Apps and web based applications.
We expect the chromebooks to be in the schools by February. The best thing about chromebooks is the simplicity of use. There is almost zero training needed as long as the user is familiar with Google Apps. Since PARCC is web-based, students will simply click on the icon and sign in to the assessment.

The testing windows are as follows:
Performance-Based Assessment (PBA): March 16 - April 10, 2015
End-of-Year/End-of-Course Assessment (EOY/EOC): May 4 - May 29, 2015
 

 

Teaching RL.6 -- Point of View

In preparation for a professional development session next week with a group of 4th Grade elementary teachers, I compiled resources and information about ELA CCSS RL.6. The teachers had reached out to me with questions about teaching the “point of view” literature standard and I was all too happy to assist. It honestly was a delight to focus my attention on one single standard. In the past few years we have been so consumed with unpacking all the ELA/Math/Science standards, developing units of study, creating assessment and fine-tuning instructional strategies… it was a gift for me to dive deeply into a single standard. As I began to collect information and resources, which are numerous due to the ‘common’ in common core, I had a few “ah ha” moments. My weekend study gave me a better understanding of all the literature standards.
 
RL.6 also known as the point of view standard reads as: Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations. Students first need to acquire some general knowledge, for example, point of view is the perspective or lens from how the story/poem is being told and that a story may sound different depending on who is telling it. For example, if a student receives a detention because of talking in class the teacher’s perspective may be different from student’s perspective. Students will also have to learn (DOK 2 type stuff) that first person point of view will have the pronouns I and me, whereas, third person will have the pronouns he and she. To truly be knowledgeable of this standard, however; it seems clear to me that a student must first be proficient in standard RL.2 (aka the theme standard.) Standard RL.2 reads as: Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text. The two seem to be joined simply because if the point of view of a passage or poem is changed, the message that the author is conveying changes. This may seem like common sense stuff, yet in all my readings there has not been any specific information about the link between RL.2 and RL.6. Prior to teaching theme, a student must first be able to read, comprehend and understand plot, characters and events. Do you see where I am going here? By studying RL.6 I have deeper insight about how the standards are delicately interconnected and dependent upon one another. Don’t get me wrong, I have never thought that they should be taught independently of one another, but I have definitely experienced them with a new perspective (pun intended.) I visualize them as a braid, tightly woven and strong.
 
My plan for next week is to share the resources and information gathered. I prepared some slides, a livebinder of online resources and made bookmarks that could be used as a quick reference tool.
 
The next step in the workshop, we will dissect a question and sample response. I will hold off on the “art and craft of teaching” until we solidify what we want students to be able to communicate to show their understanding of point of view. I think that this is critical. Before we talk about specific lessons we need concrete examples of what proficiency looks like. We will need to develop constructed response questions and proficient responses. It is important that we model responses that are ‘above the standard.’ Most constructed response questions are scored on a four-point rubric. The ‘3’ is considered proficient. The ‘3’ however can’t be the goal… because in reality the ‘3’ is like a C or the minimum that a student can write to be considered proficient. Just like a high school English teacher would never hold up a C paper for a model we don’t want our elementary models to be the ‘minimum.’ It (the ‘3’) may be a goal for our struggling students, but certainly not for our typical students. We have to model samples of work that exceed the standard by clearly showing children how to not only answer a question thoroughly and provide evidence to prove the answer, but also extending and fining their response in a clear and concise way.
 
This is usually my favorite type of activity as it always lends itself to lively discussion. We will undoubtedly tweak the question and sample response as I know there is much room for improvement. Here is the draft:
 
Prompt: Identify and explain the point of view of the story “The Lesson” and describe how the point of view would change if it were written from the sons’ perspective.
 
Sample Response: The point of view of the story “The Lesson” was written in third person. The narrator told a story about how cooperation of people makes work easier. In the story the father was upset that his three sons didn’t ever want to work together so he decided to teach them a lesson. He asked each boy to break the bundle of twigs in half. Each boy tried and failed. When the father divided the bundle into three pieces, each boy was easily able to break the twigs proving that “when you divide work, it is easy and you can accomplish much.” If the story was written from the point of view of the sons, the big idea/theme could have been different, it could have changed to “adults are wise teachers,” The sons did learn a valuable lesson from there father and he did a nice job having them learn the lesson for themselves rather than just telling them to cooperate.
 
Once we solidify what we want children to know and be able to do to show their understanding of point of view, we will surely then discuss and develop lessons to engage students in the learning. I foresee the teachers creating lesson plans that have students rewriting “The Three Little Pigs” from the point of view of the wolf, or creating flip books, dioramas, and mobiles. I look forward to working with this incredible team to extend and refine my own knowledge.
 
 
 

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Resident Experts - Wanted!

Are you interested in becoming a “Resident Expert?”  Our “Resident Expert” program in a system and structure that we have designed to do a deep study of a topic and provide professional development to faculty. Possible topics to be studied include: student engagement strategies, parcc assessment, Next Generation Science Standards, and questioning techniques. If you are interested shoot me an email. I will be bringing ideas to the Professional Development Advisory Committee. We will develop committees based on interest. Thanks for any consideration.