Comparing the PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessments

(Originally titled “Coming Soon: A New Generation of Assessments”)

In this Educational Leadership article, K-12 Center at ETS director Nancy Doorey provides a helpful guide to the Common Core-aligned assessments that PARCC and Smarter Balanced consortia are crafting for 2014-15 implementation:

Major similarities between PARCC and Smarter Balanced:

  • The assessments will be taken on computers for students in grades 3-8 and in high-school ELA, literacy, and math.
  • There will be a variety of assessment items: selected-response, constructed response, technology-enhanced, and complex performance tasks. 
  • There will be two required components, both given in the final weeks of the school year.
  • By using electronic and human scoring, results will be available within two weeks.
  • There will be optional interim assessments, professional development modules, formative items and tasks for classroom use, model curriculum units, an online reporting suite, and a digital library for sharing vetted resources and tools. 
  • The cost for all summative components will be about $20 per student per year.

Key differences:

  • PARCC summative assessments will use fixed-form delivery – students take one of several fixed, equated sets of items and tasks.
  • Smarter Balanced will use adaptive delivery – students get an individually tailored set of items and tasks depending on their responses as they take the tests, and there will be a retake option for the end-of-year component.
  • PARCC will have one optional diagnostic and one optional midyear assessment, with the latter containing mostly tasks similar to the summative performance-based tasks. It will have optional K-2 formative performance tasks and a required, non-summative speaking and listening assessment for grades 3-8 and high school, locally scored.
  • Smarter Balanced will have optional interim assessments for grades 3-12, computer adaptive with multiple item types, including performance tasks. The number, timing, and scope will be locally determined.

For PARCC test items and prototypes: www.parcconline.org/samples/item-task-prototypes

For Smarter Balanced items: www.smarterbalanced.org/sample-items-and-performance-tasks

For a map of which states are in PARCC and which are in Smarter Balanced, see

http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/two-paths-toward-common-core-st... 

“Coming Soon: A New Generation of Assessments” by Nancy Doorey in Educational Leadership, December 2012/January 2013 (Vol. 70, #4, p. 28-34), www.ascd.org; Doorey can be reached at ndoorey@k12.center.org

From the Marshall Memo #464

 

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