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Preparing for PARCC Part VIII – Creating PARCC-Like English Assessments TECRs

Preparing for PARCC Part VIII

Creating PARCC-Like English Assessments – TECRs

This post is part of our blog series on PARCC. In this series, we offer tips and strategies you can use to ensure that your students perform at their very best on the PARCC tests.
One way to assist students to perform at their personal best on PARCC is to simulate the test-taking experience, both in terms of the test content and the testing conditions. This two-part blog post covers how to create a PARCC-like English assessment. Part 1 addressed how to select text, how to identify what is special or unique about the text, and how to write Evidence-Based Selected Response (EBSR) items. This blog will present ideas and templates for creating the assessment’s Technology-Enhanced Constructed Responses (TECR).
What is a TECR?
 
“This ELA/literacy item uses technology to capture a student’s comprehension of texts in authentic ways that have been historically difficult to capture using current assessments. Examples include using drag and drop, cut and paste, and highlight text features.”  (parcconline.org)
What types of technology-enhanced items does PARCC utilize?
The PARCC assessments include several types of technology-enhanced items:
  • Multiple Select: These items are similar to multiple choice questions, except that students can select more than one correct answer.
  • Highlight Text: Students highlight sections of the text to identify evidence that answers the question.
  • Reorder Text: Students rearrange text selections to place them in chronological order, or to display theme, supporting details, etc.
  • Drag and Drop Text: Students drag blocks of text to tables to display attributes of the text: setting, characterization, chronology, etc.
At this time PARCC only has a few sample online practice tests. However, instructors can make their own TECR items and integrate the concepts as paper and pencil experiences. It’s a matter of identifying what the question types are requiring of students. By providing additional opportunities to practice TECR items in class, students will be more familiar with the construct of the TECRs. Additionally, the TECRs assess students’ ability to meet Common Core ELA Standards.
Below are several templates you can use in your classroom. Download the template, and fill in the blanks based on the text you use. Students can either cut and paste the items or draw lines to the correct space. Either way, students will have a chance to apply the Standards as well as practice using the TECR formats.
Literature TECR Templates
Informational Text TECR Templates

 

Inspired Instruction would be happy to review your work on PARCC. Email your TECR to judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com along with the text, your reason for choosing that text, and the standards that you wish to assess with the item. She’ll reply with feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Standards Solution and Inspired Instruction offer 540 PARCC lesson plans, online PARCC-like assessments with technology-enhanced items, PARCC workshops, and PARCC demonstration lessons.

Please contact Judy Cataldi for more information:

Judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com or call 908-223-7202


Standards Solution Holding, LLC is not owned by or affiliated in any fashion with PARCC, Inc.

By |2018-03-13T18:56:58+00:00March 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Preparing for PARCC Part VII – ELA Assessments

Preparing for PARCC Part VII

Creating PARCC-Like English Assessments Part 1: EBSRs

This post is part of our blog series on PARCC. In this series, we offer tips and strategies you can use to ensure that your students perform at their very best on the PARCC tests.

One way to assist students to perform at their personal best is to simulate the test-taking experience, both in terms of the test content and the testing conditions. This two-part blog post covers how to create a PARCC-like English assessment. In Part 1, we’ll address how to select a text, how to identify what is special or unique about the text, and how to write Evidence-Based Selected Response (EBSR) items. In Part 2, we’ll explain the Technology-Enhanced Constructed Response (TECR) items and provide templates for creating these items.

What is an EBSR?

An EBSR is a two-part question (Part A and Part B). “The term refers to a type of ELA/literacy test item that asks students to show the evidence in a text that led them to a previous answer.” (parcconline.org) An EBSR assesses vocabulary knowledge, elements of literature, main ideas, key details, structure, or integration of ideas. In order to create an assessment, we have to identify what PARCC calls “texts worth reading.” Let’s look at how PARCC determines if a text is worthy of study.

Five PARCC Criteria for Selecting Texts Worth Reading:

  • Texts Are Complex: PARCC assessments follow the staircase of text complexity in the CCSS to ensure assessments track student progress each year towards college and career readiness.
  • Texts Are Diverse: PARCC texts stem from across the disciplines (e.g. ELA, history, science and technical subjects), are written by authors with diverse backgrounds, reflect the CCSS prescribed balances of literature and informational text, and appeal to a wide range of student audiences.
  • Texts Are Authentic: PARCC texts are authentic works of exceptional craft and/or rich repositories of ideas and information rather than commissioned-for-the-test passages lacking sufficient evidence, organization, and style.
  • Texts Are Paired Effectively: PARCC text pairings, where required by the CCSS, have meaningful and significant points of comparison that invite questions beyond superficial observations.
  • Texts Meet Demands of Bias and Sensitivity Guidelines: PARCC texts are carefully vetted to ensure that while they pique student interest and appeal to a wide audience they avoid highly controversial topics that may be troublesome to students.” (parcconline.org)

Now, let’s complete the following four steps to create your first EBSR item.

  • Step #1 – Consider Your Text Once you have selected your text, you have to think about what is special or unique about the text. Take a look at your text. With the understanding that text complexity is important and students should continually be exposed to increasingly complex text, determine which sections or passages may be difficult for students. Here is a sample for you to consider. OK, so now we’re ready to create text-dependent questions. Read what PARCC has to say about text-dependent questions: “Good text dependent questions will often linger over specific phrases and sentences to ensure careful comprehension of the text—they help students see something worthwhile that they would not have seen on a more cursory reading. An effective set of text dependent questions delves systematically into a text to guide students in extracting the key meanings or ideas found there. They typically begin by exploring specific words, details, and arguments and then move on to examine the impact of those specifics on the text as a whole. Along the way they target academic vocabulary and specific sentence structures as critical focus points for gaining comprehension.” (parcconline.org)
  • Step #2 – Identify What You Want to Assess Now that you know what is special about your text, what do you want to assess? PARCC created Reading Evidence Tables for Kindergarten through grade 11. Take a look at your grade level’s document. PARCC Reading Evidence Tables (Scroll about halfway down the page to see the list of evidence tables.) Using your grade level’s table, identify passages in the text that can be used to assess the evidences to be measured by your test item.
  • Step #3 – Construct Part A of Your EBSR Think about PARCC’s Item Guidelines listed below and use our template to construct Part A of your EBSR. Constructing Distractors – Part A ü  “The primary purpose of a distractor is to provide evidence that a student is not able to meet the standard(s) assessed due to student misconceptions. ü  Distractors must be plausible responses to item stems. ü  Items should not use negative distractors. ü  The written style of all distractors in an item should be similar to that of the correct response(s). ü  Answer responses (distractors) are not ordered alphabetically by first word or by short to long, etc. the answers in the order they appear in the passage.” (PARCC – Item Guidelines for ELA/Literacy PARCC Summative Assessment- Best Practices for Distractors for EBSR items)
  • Step #4 – Construct Part B of Your EBSR Follow these PARCC guidelines for creating Part B: “In Part B, when writing the distractors for evidences, all of the answer choices must be the same type of citation of evidence (e.g. all quotes or all paraphrases).  Particular care must be taken for Part B items, where students are asked to select evidence from the text such that distractor wording to achieve parallelism in style does not overly  impose distractor wording. All answer choices for Part B must be accurate/relevant/from the passage.” (PARCC – Item Guidelines for ELA/Literacy PARCC Summative Assessment- Best Practices for Distractors for EBSR items)

There you have it! You constructed the first EBSR for your PARCC-like assessment. One of our educational experts would be happy to review your work with EBSRs. Email your EBSR to judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com along with the text, your reason for choosing that text, and the standards that you wish to assess with the item. She’ll reply with feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Let’s quickly review! To create a PARCC-like English assessment with Evidence-Based Selected Responses, you have to:

  1. Select a text worthy of close study via a comprehensive analysis of the text.
  2. Identify specifically what you want to assess with a comparison of the reading evidence docs AND what is special and unique in the text.
  3. Create EBSRs that have quality distractors.

And that’s it! Follow those simple steps and you’ll be well on your way to mastering PARCC’s EBSR question types.

 

Inspired Instruction offer 540 PARCC lesson plans, online PARCC-like assessments with technology-enhanced items, PARCC workshops, and PARCC demonstration lessons. Please contact Judy Cataldi for more information: Judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com or call 908-223-7202.

Standards Solution Holding, LLC is not owned by or affiliated in any fashion with PARCC, Inc.

By |2018-02-26T14:12:29+00:00February 26th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Preparing for PARCC Part V – Aligning English Language Arts Instructional Practices

 

 

Preparing for PARCC Part V

Aligning English Language Arts Instructional Practices

 

 

This post is part of our blog series on PARCC. In this series, we offer tips and strategies you can use to ensure that your students perform at their very best on the PARCC tests.

Regardless of how you feel about PARCC, or any standardized test, I think that in PARCC states we can all agree, at this moment it is necessary to prepare our students for the experience. And to be honest, I don’t think that preparing for PARCC is a waste of instruction time. PARCC is a test that evaluates students’ progress toward college and career readiness.  It is a test of our students’ competence regarding the Common Core State Standards. Therefore, when we are preparing students for PARCC we are applying and practicing the Common Core. That is what we are supposed to do.But what does a fully aligned classroom look like?

“The PARCC assessments are aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and were created to measure students’ ability to apply their knowledge of concepts rather than memorizing facts.”  (NJDOE)

In English language Arts (ELA), students will be required to:

Closely read multiple passages
Write essay responses in literary analysis, research tasks and narrative tasks

Close Reading

So what is close reading and how do we apply it in the classroom?

Characteristics of Close Reading

  • Uncovers layers of meaning in a text
  • Invites a careful reading of the text
  • Requires a text to be read multiple times
  • Requires that students be asked a range of text-dependent questions

Text-Dependent Questions

  • Can only be answered with evidence from the text.
  • Can be literal but must also involve analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
  • Focus on word, sentence, and paragraph, as well as larger ideas, themes, or events.
  • Focus on difficult portions of the text in order to enhance reading proficiency
  • Can also include prompts for writing and discussion questions. (achievethecore.com)

Applying Close Reading and Asking Text-Dependent Questions

One implication of conducting close reading and asking text-dependent questions is that classroom tasks should require students to provide both oral and written responses to questions about the text in which the answers are found within the text and are not based on prior knowledge, experience or opinion

Instructors should spend more time teaching students how to find evidence from the text.

Instructors need to consider and create text-dependent questions before instruction.
Instructors should attend professional development workshops to learn how to apply close reading strategies

Literary Analysis Tasks

How do students complete LATs?

Students carefully consider two literary texts worthy of close study.
They are asked to answer a few EBSR and TECR questions about each text to demonstrate their ability to do close analytic reading and to compare and synthesize ideas.
Students write a literary analysis about the two texts.

PARCC’s LATs and RSTs are a new and unusual writing task for both instructors and students.  But at the heart of a literary analysis task is the understanding that authors write for specific purposes. And the student’s thesis in a LAT is his/her perspective of the author’s choices that are supported with evidence from the text.  To assist students to write quality LATs they need to have a strong understanding of the elements of literature and an understanding of how to construct the essay

Please view the blog, “6-Step Process for Writing LATs and RSTs” to learn how to assist your students to complete these essays.

Some topics that instructors might want to focus on include:

  • Elements of Literature
  • Word Choice
  • Genres
  • Literary Devices

Research Simulation Tasks

The other new and unusual writing task is the Research Simulation Task (RST).

How do students complete RSTs?

Students begin by reading an anchor text that introduces the topic.
EBSR and TECR items ask students to gather key details about the passage to support their understanding.
Students read one or two additional sources and answer a few questions about each text to learn more about the topic, so they are ready to write the final essay and to show their reading comprehension.
Finally, students mirror the research process by synthesizing their understandings into a writing that uses textual evidence from the sources.

Some of the concepts that students will be asked to write about include:

Main Idea and Supporting Details: Students read one text and identify main idea and supporting details<

Cause and Effect: Students read another text and identify the cause and effect

Claim and Evidence: Students read another text and identify claim, supporting evidence and explanation<

Instructors can help students to complete RSTs by:

Familiarizing students with RST elements
Building students’ skills related to evidence
Helping students improve their writing skills

Let’s talk about evidence. How do students select the best evidence to support their claim? Here are a couple of thought-provoking activities you can use in your classroom:

Narrative Tasks

The narrative tasks on PARCC are the most familiar to our students.

How do students complete the narrative tasks?

  • Students read a literary text
  • Students answer EBSR or TECR items
  • Students write a narrative story (PCR)

Some of the elements that students will need to hone in order to perform well on this task include:

  • Point of view
  • Developing strong voice
  • Identifying mood, tone and voice

Students will also need to improve the quality of their essays:

  • Show Don’t Tell
  • Strong Character Development
  • Improved Dialogue
  • Powerful Language

Here are a couple of activities that instructors can use to enhance students understanding of the narrative task requirements:

It is our sincerest wish that you find value in these ideas and resources and begin to integrate the concepts that students will experience on PARCC. Please let us know if we can help you make your classroom or school more fully aligned with the Common Core and PARCC.

 

Inspired Instruction offers 540 PARCC lesson plans, online PARCC-like assessments with technology-enhanced items, PARCC workshops, and PARCC demonstration lessons.

Please contact Judy Cataldi for more information:
Judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com or call 908-223-7202

Standards Solution Holding, LLC is not owned by or affiliated in any fashion with PARCC, Inc.

By |2018-02-12T15:36:31+00:00February 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Moving Toward More Authentic Engagement

At a recent visit to a school in New Jersey, I saw the above poster on the wall of a conference room. It was coincidental that I saw it, since the topic of the workshop I was scheduled to present was…instructional strategies to engage students! I took a quick picture and referenced it during the workshop, focusing on how it’s important to consider the relevance of our content and to help students make the connections between the content and (as the poster indicates) their passions, interests and future.

Student engagement is a hot topic these days. Between students’ shortening attention spans and ever-increasing distractions, it is more imperative than ever to keep students engaged in the classroom. As teachers strive to increase the level of engagement, they must also strive for authentic engagement, where students are empowered, as the poster indicates, to own their learning and where students are intrinsically motivated.

During a recent observation of a vocabulary lesson, the students were all sitting on the carpet, facing the teacher. They were reminded to “track” the teacher in order to pay attention. They had various opportunities to engage with the teacher and with their peers, restating and answering questions and discussing in small groups. The students were well behaved and, by definition, “engaged.” This situation repeated itself in several of the classrooms I visited at that same school. However, the principal indicated that they were not pleased with the growth that students were making, in fact there was little measurable growth. I believe that part of this is due to the fact that what I was observing was compliant engagement.

Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey developed a Continuum of Engagement, which outlines four levels of engagement. What I observed in the vocabulary lesson was compliant engagement, where students were paying attention and following the teacher, but not interacting with their learning in a meaningful way. Consider that as the scale of engagement moves from compliant to the ideal flow, so does the relationship between the student, the teacher, and most importantly, the content. When students have reached the flow level, they are, indeed, empowered.

There are other ways of thinking about the ideal type of engagement. Phil Schlechty defines 5 levels:

  • Authentic Engagement: students are immersed in work that has clear meaning and immediate value to them (reading a book on a topic of personal interest)
  • Ritual Compliance: the work has little or no immediate meaning to students, but there are extrinsic outcomes of value that keep them engaged (earning grades necessary for college acceptance)
  • Passive Compliance: students see little or no meaning in assigned work but expend effort merely to avoid negative consequences (not having to stay in during recess to complete work)
  • Retreatism: students are disengaged from assigned work and make no attempt to comply, but are not disruptive to the learning of others
  • Rebellion: students refuse to do assigned task, act disruptive, and attempt to substitute alternative activities

 

In all situations, it is worth teachers closely examining their class and their instruction to measure where they stand on both of these guides. Flow and authentic engagement are the goal, but they make need to take some smaller steps to achieve them.

One of the most important steps one can make in moving toward the ideally engaged classroom is to focus on the classroom environment. Students need a low-stress, low-anxiety place in which to learn. Without this, little to no meaningful learning can take place. According to educational researcher Stephen Krashen, “Learning is seen to be heavily dependent on the mood of the learner, with learning being impaired if the learner under stress…” A learner under stress is definitely not empowered and achieving flow!

Developing a growth mindset in students and supporting this mindset in the classroom is one way to alleviate some of the anxiety and stress that students feel. Those with a growth mindset do not fear mistakes, but rather view them as a natural occurrence and an opportunity to learn. Those with a growth mindset believe that while they may not be able to do something at the moment, a different approach or different type of effort may make all the difference. Teachers can support this mindset in the way they speak to students, praising effort and not ability. Teachers also need to be aware of those moments when mistakes are made (either student or teacher mistakes!) and shape them into learning opportunities.

Developing a classroom with a positive learning environment is just one of many ways to move from a classroom exhibiting compliant engagement and one exhibiting authentic engagement. A cooperative learning environment, with differentiated experiences that tap into students’ abilities and interests, will provide students with the opportunities to be empowered and take control of their learning. A teacher who sees value in planning for engagement at all stages of a lesson will give students the opportunity to engage with content in innovative ways. It is then that students have greater chance of experiencing the flow that comes with authentic engagement.

By |2017-10-18T18:02:25+00:00October 18th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments