Blogs About Reading

The Common Core Classroom

Emily Stewart, M.Ed.

Guest blogger Emily Stewart, M.Ed., is a third grade teacher at Murch Elementary, a public school in Washington, DC. During the 2012-2013 school year, Emily will be sharing the real-world strategies, challenges, and successes of implementing ELA Common Core standards in her classroom.

A Smarter Balanced PARCC?

June 25, 2013

By now, it's probably not a surprise that there are two different assessments that states are adopting for their Common Core state test. Many of the comparison studies have proven that the previous state assessments tested students at levels 1 and 2 of the DOK (depth of knowledge). After disaggregating the test-released items for the Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessments, studies have shown the levels of released questions have elevated to the higher tiers: 3 and 4. The findings seemed to indicate the Common Core assessments will move needed instruction away from the "teach to the test," and instead will require teachers to promote the "college-ready" and real-life application skills of reasoning, inquiry and evaluation needed for deeper understanding.

More than anything, I am very interested in how long it will take to truly transition our kids into the Common Core State Standards. In DC Public Schools, we began transitioning to the CCSS two years ago in ELA, and this past year in math. But the transition period, with the overlapping and omission of standards, might take longer than we think it will. So the question remains: will our students be prepared for the increased rigor, required by the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments?

This summer, I have decided to pour over the test-released items in ELA and math, released from Smarter Balanced and PARCC and task analyze each one. Then, I can pair it with the Common Core standard it is supposed to assess, trying to understand how that integration can take place in my classroom.I think this will help with conceptual teaching of each standard, and help to organize the best way to pre-assess my kiddos next year.

Hopefully you will find some time to dig through these prototypes, and find some innovative ideas for integrating the Common Core Standards into your curriculum. Getting a jumpstart on the types of questions students will be asked and how they differ from the previous ones will help drive our pre-assessments and how we conceptually look at teaching each of these standards in the years to come! Happy summer!


Looking at the task prototypes is a great idea, but note that in the narrative PARCC has provided alongside of the prototypes is a caveat regarding the dynamic nature of the assessment itself. As you look at the prototypes, also look at the Task Generation Models to inform curriculum development: As a matter of fact, I have already sifted through the Task Generation Models and summarized them in a grade by grade curriculum and assessment planner:

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