Get to know the CCSS assessments

Posted on Friday, 10/11/2013 6:32 PM

As states work toward the full implementation of the Common Core State Standards, educators have their hands full. In addition to receiving high-quality professional development focused on the CCSS, teachers also need to make sure their textbooks, classroom hardware and student software are properly aligned with the standards.

Updated technology will be especially important as students begin to take Common Core-aligned assessments. The two most prominent tests are the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium's Smarter Balanced Assessment and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers' PARCC Assessment. Here are a few things these tests have in common, as well as what makes them different:

Similarities
The CCSS are designed to prepare K-12 students for the challenges that await them in college and the workforce. As both assessments are aligned with the Common Core, they share a commitment to measuring test takers' college and career readiness levels.

For example, the PARCC Assessment is designed to create a pathway to college and career readiness, according to PARCC's website. As soon as students begin to take the tests, their teachers will have data they can use to see which pupils are on the right track and who could use extra assistance. At the same time, the information they gain from the assessments will inform future instruction.

Meanwhile, the Smarter Balanced Assessment can provide the same benefits to educators. According to the consortium's website, results from these CCSS-aligned tests can be used to help students succeed.

As both tests are designed to reflect the CCSS, their questions, of course, focus on English language arts and mathematics.

Differences
Both the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the PARCC Assessment are computerized. However, their formats are quite different.

When students take the PARCC Assessment, they will answer non-adaptive questions. This is not the case with the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which use computer adaptive technology to change the questions pupils are receiving.

What this means is that when a student answers a question correctly, the next item on the test will be more challenging. If the answer a test taker provides is incorrect, he or she will get an easier question. Not only does this provide a more challenging testing experience for students, but more accurate information for teachers afterwards.

While different states will administer one test or the other, students can expect to see either one during the 2014-2015 academic year.

 

 

 

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