Common Core: Are You Ready for PARCC Assessments?

If you answered “no,” or “maybe,” here’s how the Marzano model can help.

A lot has been written about the individual Common Core State Standards, but what happens when students are tested with the new PARCC assessments? To get some guidance on what districts should use to prepare, the best place to look is the PARCC Model Content Frameworks. The Model Content Frameworks were designed to inform the development of the item specifications and blueprints for the PARCC assessments, and implementation of Common Core. To meet Common Core demands, districts and schools will ask teachers to focus on the following literacy skills:

1.  Reading complex texts using close analytic reading
2.  Comparing and synthesizing concepts and ideas across text sources, including print and digital
3.  Writing in a variety of ways always referencing evidence to back claims
4.  Writing about a topic synthesizing information from a variety of sources
5.  Speaking and listening, individually and in groups, while supporting claims with evidence
6.  Using proper grammar and spoken English when reading, writing and speaking

Notice the language used above: complex, analytic, synthesizing, evidence, sources, etc. Common Core asks both teachers and students to really ramp up their higher order thinking skills. The Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model focuses on just this kind of instruction. Take close analytic reading, for example: Students read for explicit and implied meanings, and analyze words, sentences, and larger text structures for further meaning. Now let’s look at Marzano Design Question 2, Element 10: Processing New Information. With DQ2, students do the same, working with text, summarizing, predicting, and questioning.

The same applied for Design Question 3, Element 17: Examining Similarities and Differences. DQ3 addresses Common Core standards by asking students to synthesize information from various texts. Dr. Marzano notes that this can be accomplished through use of comparison, classifying, analogy, and metaphor activities.

Common Core standards call for students to cite evidence from texts when writing and speaking. Design Question 3, Element 18: Examining Errors in Reasoning, asks students to do just that – to cite evidence when supporting claims. In a literature class, for example, you might ask students to describe characters in a story and cite specific textual examples to back up their descriptions. Writing about their political views, students can provide reasons to support those views.

A debate is a wonderful way to strengthen analytical skills and the use of evidence. Students not only support their claims but also challenge the strength of their opponents’ claims. These are exactly the skills Common Core emphasizes. They are “real-world” skills that prepare students for college, work, and the demands of the 21st century.

Lastly, Common Core asks students to work in groups to conduct research, hold discussions in both small and large groups, and work in groups using technology to produce and publish writing. Design Questions 2, 3, and 4 organize students to interact, deepen, and generate and test hypotheses of new knowledge. The model emphasizes the need for students to be able to work with others in group settings to enhance their learning.

Want to find out more about how to help your students ace the PARCC assessments? Want to meet John Edwards and Dr. Marzano in person, so you can pick their brains? We have two big events coming your way this summer: our regional Common Core conferences, Beyond the Basics, and our big international Marzano conference, Building Expertise. We hope to see you there!

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