PARCC Releases Additional Sample Items and Looks for Educator Feedback


On November 6, 2013, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) common assessment consortium released a second set of sample items, providing a window into the field test to be given in Spring 2014 and the assessments’ full roll out in the 2014–15 school year. This release marked yet another milestone in the long journey to develop high-quality tasks that educators in the field would find useful for themselves and their students.

PARCC Sample Items to Take to the ClassroomLast year, PARCC released a set of item prototypes that received positive feedback from the field. Although these prototypes were aligned to the Common Core State Standards, they were still a “best guess” at what types of items would be on the tests—ranging from technology enhanced, quick response items to longer performance-based tasks that would measure multiple standards and fully capture student learning. Using the feedback on the prototypes, PARCC state leaders—representing classroom to state-level educators—began to work on developing, reviewing and releasing sets of sample items that would reflect the standards and align with the various evidence and claims laid out for the assessment. And the best part of these new sample items? All will be re-released on the technology platform in late 2013 so educators can “play” with the items.

The sample items aim to capture the spirit of the standards and assessments in a new way. Each sample item has undergone a rigorous process of evaluation almost identical to the process used for the thousands of items to be used on the field test—which will “test the test” before the 2014–15 school year. PARCC’s Educator Leader Cadre (ELC) members (mentioned here in my last post) had a “first look” and an opportunity to provide feedback on the sample items during their most recent in-person meeting in Chicago. Through this process, ELC members learned that every live item is reviewed almost 30 times before it makes it to the test, and the items must meet rigorous standards that will ensure alignment the Common Core State Standards, be free of bias (PDF), and provide accessibility to a full range of students. All educators that wish to do a “walk-through” of this review process—and try it out with items they’ve developed on their own—can access this session on the PARCC ELC Portal. In fact, all of the materials from the last meeting are posted on the portal, accessible to anyone that wants to sign up at

PARCC encourages educators to take the sample items into their classrooms and bring the items to life. Are you able to actually use the Grade 3 mathematics sample item (PDF) to illustrate the creation of grids in your art classroom? Are your students able to grapple with the questions in the Grade 10 ELA/literacy task that ask students to draw evidence from the complex text of Ovid’s “Daedalus and Icarus”? Are your students able to push through and use the evidence collected to construct a well-thought-out analysis of both Ovid’s work and the accompanying text of Anne Sexton? PARCC state leaders continue to hear from educators all over the country, who convey their successes in using the items with students and informing their fellow educators about the assessments—this feedback is crucial in the design and development process of the entire assessment system.

Although the sample items represent a great step for the PARCC consortium, state educators working on the assessment want to continue to hear from those in the field about how you are using the sample items and other materials produced by the consortium. Please tweet your feedback to PARCC’s @PARCCPlace Twitter account or submit your thoughts to 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.