In my most recent blog, Ticking Toward 2015 Assessment, I shared with readers performance tasks that have been added to PARCC’s assessment blueprints since spring field testing. In a much earlier post, I shared the heart of the Performance Task–whether talking PARCC or SBAC: the Constructed Response. In a blog blog entitled “Another PARCC Acronym: The PCR”, I explained the features of PARCC’s Prose Constructed Response. In today’s post, I reveal a beta tool, the Performance Task Planner, I have designed to guide educators in writing PARCC-like assessments that can be integrated into everyday teaching and learning. Although PARCC is using the performance tasks as a frame for writing, teachers can elicit the same kind of thinking in students through group discussion and paired work. Speaking and listening in this sense becomes rehearsal for writing. Of course, students can write to the performance task prompts but writing can take multiple forms–not always the essay. Granted, students must write to become better writers, but they must be thinkers first.
Yes, I’m really excited! In developing this beta planning model, I’ve been learning to code. Lots of people talking about coding…but I’ve been doing it–well, sort of. I’ve had a mentor supporting my work as I designed a Common Core/PARCC Aligned Assessment Planner complete with self-generating text boxes. What does that mean? It means we are no longer limited to understanding how PARCC is laid out through a static list of standards numbers. Instead, we can access a digital road map of the PARCC assessment blueprint allowing users to thoughtfully or quickly select a performance task and immediately see the standards that task is designed to assess. Using a grade level planning map, users select a task and a series of cells self-generate the related standards. Wow.
But the planning map doesn’t stop there. Beneath the standards is a cell for teachers to enter standard aligned text based questions. And if you really want your questions to be PARCC-like, the cell expands and tabs to allow for two-part questions with accompanying options.
In reality, PARCC has designed as many as 23 specific performance task options for each grade 6-12 during the Performance Based Assessment (PBA) portion of summative assessment beginning in Spring 2015. By selecting one of those tasks for each of the three test forms (literature analysis, research simulation task, and narrative writing), a teacher would have the basis to design a local common assessment that could be used for pre-assessment, interim assessment, and post-assessment–meeting curricular expectations, previewing the new generation assessment, and potentially addressing student growth.
I like to think of the Assessment Planner like a map. A map not only leads the traveler towards the destination, but also teaches along the way. My planner centers users in the Common Core ELA/Literacy Standards while leading them through the various roads PARCC’s Performance-based assessment will take in measuring students’ proficiencies. Working the planner, like reading the map, will move you step by step through your own assessment or project writing process.
Once completed, you can choose to use these assessments as fully individual assessments or as group activities that engage students in the discussion of item answers but then write as individuals, pairs, or larger groups. The point is to have students become immersed in the Common Core Standards and simultaneously get a sense of the PARCC assessment.
As in any journey, you will have decisions to make. You will need to choose the vehicle for assessment—the disciplinary texts—and the ultimate destination–the performance task. Once task and text are decided, the document will automatically lay out a standards map for you to follow on your project writing journey. No guessing about the standard’s road to take.
Beneath each standard is an expandable text box to accommodate the questions, item answers, and distractors you craft along the way. Similar maps are included for each of PARCC’s three Performance Based Assessment Tasks: the literature analysis task, the research simulation task, and the narrative writing task. This planner represents the most current iteration of PARCC’s performance descriptors as outlined in the July 2014 Assessment Blueprints published in mid-September. Are you ready…do you want to try out this beta model? Visit my store to view the Performance Task Planners and use this coupon code to download your free set: PTCoup14 (valid through 11.19.14).
If you would like to bring a tour guide into your school to help map your journey, Dr. Dea is available to lead your entire staff on the learning expedition. If you need personal guidance or have questions, feel free to contact Dr. Dea through her website or through her email: [email protected].