As we approach the PARCC Assessment starting line, many schools are conducting dry runs with practice tests to troubleshoot in advance. Based on research and discussions in the field, here are some tips that may be helpful when you administer the real thing.
Per my earlier post which warned about the dysfunctional highlighting feature (i.e., the problem of highlighting not carrying forward from one page to another), the PARCC “customer service” folks claim that they “hope to have this problem solved in time for the actual tests.” In case they don’t, it might be a good idea to direct your students to read and HIGHLIGHT THE FIRST TEXT ONLY ON THE FIRST PAGE, then answer the questions on that page, then click forward to the next page and answer those questions, etc., until they get to the next text, at which point they should do all of the highlighting for that text again ON ONE PAGE. Students can click backwards to the highlighted text to pull out their key ideas for their T-chart (or in the case of Research Writing, “three-chart”) after answering the questions.
- Students should absolutely be given blank scrap paper on which to take notes and do pre-writing. For field-tested suggestions about how to pre-write for Narrative Writing, Literary Analysis, or Research Writing, check out the TLC “PARCC Prep” page and additional PARCC-related posts on this TLC Blog.
- Teach students to jot only the first few words of quotes they might use as evidence/explanation instead of wasting time writing full sentences. They can refer back to those first few words and decide if they want to use the whole quote or paraphrase it.
- For future data analysis, I would also recommend that you direct students to put their name on the scrap paper, collect it, and save it in a file for posterity. When the PARCC results come back, you can compare the results with how effectively students pre-wrote.
Students are not supposed to talk at all while taking the PARCC Assessments. However, they may encounter legitimate technical difficulties and need to alert an adult. I recommend giving them Post-its to use as a signal that they have a technical problem.
If you have any other suggestions to share, please chime in. We are all in this together!