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Saturday, December 3, 2016

PARCC Test: Preparing Students for Standardized Test Format ALL YEAR LONG

Here is a new resource for teachers:The PARCC Released Test Items for Grades 3-8 for years 2015 and 2016, that just became available:

For the second year in a row, the PARCC consortium has released authentic test items from the 2015-16 assessments for grades 3 through 8. The test items, which are actual questions from last year's assessments and can be found on the Partnership Resource Center (PRC), are designed to provide students, teachers, and parents with unparalleled transparency about the tests, and to serve as a resource to prepare for the upcoming spring assessments.  

The released assessment items, in PDF format, represent approximately one full test per grade level, for both English Language Arts/literacy and mathematics. Also posted on the PRC are scoring rubrics associated with the test questions, along with learning standards guidelines that demonstrate specifically which competencies are being measured by each question. For the open-ended writing portions of the PARCC assessments, there are anonymous student responses for each of the five PARCC scoring levels to provide the most accurate representations of what kinds of answers will earn various scores.

Winter Break is a great time to take a look at these grade-level assessments, while you have a bit of time. My plans are to match assessment questions with units of study in the "4th Grade Math Expressions" math program.  While teaching students a particular lesson, it is a great time to discuss one question that matching your current unit of study, BUT in a standardized test format:
" Here is how the PARCC test might ask you a question about what to do with the remainder in a division problem, that we have just been studying today.  Notice that the question:
 A truck delivers 32 cases of soup to a store. Each case holds 8 cans of soup. The store manager plans to place 9 cans on each shelf. What is the fewest number of shelves the manager will need for all of the cans of soup delivered by the truck? 
a. 4
B. 5
C. 28
D. 29
is a two part question that uses both multiplication and division to come up with an answer. But MOST IMPORTANTLY you have to understand what to do with the remainder from the answer of the division problem."
"What words from the problem tell me if I will consider the remainder and include it in my answer OR just look at the number of groups in the answer and don't worry about the remainder?"
Answer: The words, "for all of the cans" tells me that I must use another shelf for the cans of soups that don't make another group of 9.
(Then, that is the end of the lesson. Don't worry about solving the problem.) 
The next day, at the end of my math lesson, I might use the same problem again and pose the question:
I wonder why the question gave these four choices of answers: 4,5,28,29?
Then I would divide my class into 4 groups and ask each group to come up with what a student might be thinking to choose a specific answer. Group 1-4, Group 2- 5, Group 3- 28, Group 4- 29. A quick whole group discussion would reveal what each group found:
A. Add 32 + 8 =40, then divide by 9 = 4 shelves if you don't worry about the remainder.
B. Add 32 + 8 =40, then divide by 9 = 5 shelves if you consider the remainder needs another shelf.
C. Multiply 32 X 8 = 256, then divide by 9 = 28 r4, = 28 shelves if you don't worry about the remainder.
D. Multiply 32 X 8 = 256, then divide by 9 = 28 r4, = 29 shelves if you consider the remainder needs another shelf. (This is the correct answer.)
(As a former writer of standardized math questions for  tests, that is exactly the answer choices that I would come up for this problem.)  


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