This month, the PARCC testing group (one of the two state consortia responsible for creating assessments for the Common Core State Standards, or CCSS) has released some testing guidance. If your state has adopted CCSS, they belong either to the Smarter Balanced or PARCC consortia.
What’s interesting about the PARCC testing is that it has two parts, and the performance-based assessments (PBAs) makes research one of the three core ELA testing areas.
OK … so for the performance-based components (PBAs), the narrative says:
“The ELA/Literacy PBAs at each grade level will include three tasks: a research simulation, a literary analysis, and a narrative task. For each task, students will be asked to read one or more texts, answer several short comprehension and vocabulary questions, and write an essay that requires them to draw evidence from the text(s). The ELA/Literacy EOYs [end-of-year tests] at each grade level will include 4-5 texts, both literary and informational (including social science/historical, scientific, and technical texts at grades 6-11). A number of short-answer comprehension and vocabulary questions will also be associated with each text.”
Take a look at these stats from this PDF guide:
Let’s look at how important the weighting is ….
- 3rd grade – 60 of 150 English Language Arts PBA testing minutes (or 40% of time) will go to a research task.
- 4th & 5th grade – 80 of 210 English Language Arts PBA testing minutes (or 38% of time) will go to a research task.
- Grades 6-8 and 9-11 – 85 of 215 English Language Arts PBA testing minutes (or 40% of time) will got the research task.
Given this high priority placed on research (which I see as compatible with the framing language of the CCSS ELA documents), why is so much of the ELA narrative nationwide hung up on the percentage of time spent reading informational texts, not on what we do with them? Where do librarians fit in? Where should they be articulating this information?