September 27, 2013 by

PARCC’s Educator Leader Cadres: Ensuring Teacher Voice in the Assessments

PARCC and the ELCsFrom the consortium’s inception, the states in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) common assessment consortium have been committed not only to developing a high-quality, next-generation assessment aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), but also to engaging state experts in every way possible—from the development of assessment policies to laying the groundwork for making the assessments accessible to those in the classroom.

To continue in that collaborative spirit, the PARCC states launched the Educator Leader Cadres (ELCs) initiative in Summer 2012. The continuing goal of this initiative is to gather 24-person state teams of exceptional educators—nominated from educators in the classroom, district, or state level—who participate in cross-state professional development opportunities and learn to be advocates for both the CCSS and PARCC. To date, more than 600 educators have convened at national meetings, both virtually and in-person, to dig into the meat of the standards and learn more about how the assessment system has been developed. Individual states have expanded upon these small teams to create teacher networks (PDF) with participant number in the hundreds and even thousands!

These educators represent the core of the standards implementation process for states, and they provide valuable feedback to the consortium on strategies for using technical components like evidence tables and performance level descriptors in the classroom. These educators serve as professional development providers to others in their own and neighboring states through speaking engagements, workshops, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. And they are first in line to volunteer when PARCC needs educators to step up as advocates. A great example of this advocacy and outreach effort can be seen through the transcripts of the #askPARCC Twitter Town Halls held this past June. During this series, ELC members answered educator questions from all over the country alongside other PARCC content experts in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The Twitter Town Halls proved to be so popular that another series is in the works for the fall.

Although the ELCs have contributed immensely to the PARCC consortium, members have many more opportunities to collaborate in the near future. In early October, the members will reconvene in Chicago to engage with the recently released sample items. ELC members will also work with their larger teams to figure out new ways to expand their reach leading up to the Spring 2014 PARCC assessment field testing and into the first full year of assessment administration in the 2014–15. In addition, they will learn how to use the PARCC ELA/literacy rubrics to evaluate texts, engage in sessions about the item review process, train on how to effectively advocate for the CCSS and assessments with state and national policymakers, and much more. All of the materials from this meeting will be posted on the ELC Portal, accessible to anyone that wants to sign up at http://parcc.nms.org.

ELCs become a more integral part of sustaining the PARCC consortium and engaging more teachers in effective implementation of the assessments. You can find more information about their activities through PARCC’s @PARCCPlace Twitter account and the PARCC website.

Callie Riley headshotCallie Riley currently serves as Achieve’s senior policy associate for postsecondary engagement. In this role, she focuses on K–16 educator and state leader engagement strategies for the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) common assessment consortium. Her primary responsibilities include working with state postsecondary faculty and leaders to build sustainable in- and cross-state networks that will deepen and strengthen state participation in PARCC and managing the outreach and engagement strategy for the PARCC Educator Leader Cadres (ELCs)—a group of more than 500 core K–16 educators across 20 states—to support the successful transition to the Common Core and PARCC assessment system.