Teachers Find New Tests Outperform Current State Assessments

Teachers Find New Tests Outperform Current State Assessments

1,000 Classroom Teachers in Five Cities Engage in Deep Study of PARCC;

Teach Plus Report Presents Key Findings from Teachers’ Feedback

BOSTON, MA, MARCH 10, 2015— What do classroom teachers think about the quality of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment, designed to measure knowledge aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?  Overall, teachers rate the test favorably, with 79% of teachers finding it to be a higher-quality assessment than their previous state tests.  Teachers also find clear alignment between PARCC and the standards they teach.  A newly-released report from Teach Plus presents these and other findings from the feedback of over 1,000 classroom teachers in Illinois, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C., who extensively analyzed the PARCC assessment. 

Teach Plus, a national non-profit that empowers teachers to lead improvements in policy and practice, held seven events to test the test in the fall of 2014 to offer local public school teachers the opportunity to delve deeply into the PARCC test.  During an intensive day of professional development, the teachers learned more about PARCC questions and analyzed their alignment to CCSS and the characteristics of high-quality assessments.  The teachers reviewed PARCC sample test items, discussed them with fellow teachers, and provided feedback about the quality of the test.

“These teachers really took the time to scrutinize PARCC and render their opinion from a base of knowledge,” said Dr. Celine Coggins, CEO of Teach Plus.   “The findings tell an important story about the quality of the PARCC test and its significance to teaching and learning.”

Key findings are:

  1. Teachers believe that PARCC is a better assessment then their prior state tests.  79% of teachers rated PARCC a higher-quality test than their previous state tests.
  2. Teachers find clear alignment between PARCC and what they are teaching. 
  3. While the majority believe PARCC measures skills needed to be college- and career-ready, teachers were mixed on whether the test was grade-appropriate or too challenging.  69% of teachers believed that the PARCC test did “extremely well” or “very well” in measuring students’ critical thinking skills.

4.Teachers find the English Language Arts (ELA) assessment strongly aligned to the key instructional shifts of the CCSS but may require knowledge students don’t yet have.

  1. Teachers find the math questions cognitively demanding and balanced among concepts, procedures and application, though they wanted to see additional questions that increase the assessment rigor.

“As a teacher, I want to make sure that I’m using a worthwhile test in my classroom,” said Susan Volbrecht, an elementary school teacher in Chicago, IL, who presented at the events and is one of the co-authors of the report.  “While this project didn’t address the very real questions of technology and overtesting, it does highlight the fact that PARCC is a better test than many of us currently use with our students.”

The event participants offered suggestion for next steps that schools, districts, and states can take to help teachers as they continue to teach the CCSS and administer the new tests.  Specifically, teachers have pinpointed the following as being most useful:

  • Additional sample questions
  • Professional development on PARCC
  • Resources
  • The ability to monitor student progress through formative assessments
  • Access to better technology
  • Time to collaborate

“The teachers’ input will undoubtedly help us to improve the implementation of the test and make its specific qualities work for all teachers and students,” said Dr. Coggins.


About Teach Plus

Teach Plus aims to improve outcomes for urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to effective, experienced teachers. Teach Plus runs three programs designed to place teacher leaders at the center of reform: Teaching Policy Fellows, the Core Collaborative (C2), and T3: Turnaround Teacher Teams.  The programs focus on demonstrably effective teachers who want to continue classroom teaching while also expanding their impact as leaders in their schools and in district, state and national policy.  Since its inception in August 2009, Teach Plus has grown to a network of more than 20,000 solutions-oriented teachers in six major cities across the country.  www.teachplus.org


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