Later this year, BHS is going to be one of a few schools to test-pilot the new PARCC exam. Their website has posted a 17-question sample test that looks at a possible ELA and Math section from the Grade 10 test. The main differences between the PARCC exam and the MCAS that seem to be in play for the ELA exam are:
* Complexity of material – Granted, the sample size is awfully low, as the PARCC exam has not been fully released to the public, but the reading passages seem suitably challenging, as opposed to some of the MCAS reading prompts, which seem easy in retrospect
* Depth of understanding – the PARCC exam follows up their reading comprehension questions with a question asking students to support their original answer. Although this raises the stakes on the first question somewhat (a student cannot get credit for the second question if the first one is wrong), it reinforces what we teach in our PIE paragraphing across all 4 years at BHS
* Active selection of supporting quotes – Most MCAS close reading questions pull a quote and ask the student to interpret it. Some of the PARCC questions invert the process – they suggest an interpretation, and then ask students to select the best support quotes from a short list
* Online implementation – This part, in the ELA test, is underwhelming. The instructions on how to navigate the quiz were poor – nothing indicates that you need to scroll down to complete the reading, the button to proceed to the next question is positioned in an awkward spot, and figuring out how to proceed through the test felt like a needless test in itself. For a timed exam, there should be no lost time wasted on figuring out how the exam ought to work. Also, the drag-and-drop sections are cumbersome and pointless, as the checkboxes in the previous questions served the exact same purpose, but more intuitively. We strongly suggest that students browse through the sample exam to get accustomed to how the test works.
If you would like to practice their sample section, CLICK HERE, and then select the “High School” link, which is slightly more than halfway down the page, just below where it says, “Try the sample test items”