Q. How will Mississippi students perform when tested against these new standards?
A. Mississippi is on the governing board working to develop the next generation of assessments that will measure these higher academic standards, beginning spring 2015. We recognize these standards will require more of our students. States that have already implemented higher standards similar to these and measured their students’ performance for the first time saw the number of students scoring proficient drop. We can expect similar results here in Mississippi. It won’t be because our students are any less smart than they were before. It will be because we will be holding them to higher academic standards, which will ultimately benefit them and their future.
Q. Will the U.S. History test and Biology test still be required for graduation?
A. Yes. State law requires students to pass four subject area tests (U.S. History, Biology I, Algebra I, and English II) to earn a diploma.
Q. With CCSS implementation, will failing districts get two more years before going into receivership by the state?
A. No, state law has not changed regarding conservatorship for failing districts.
Q. How much time will students have to complete the assessments?
A. Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) estimates that the time on tasks will vary by grade and subject matter for the various assessments. Estimates show that the student could take anywhere from 4-5 hours to complete an assessment in one content area. And while it is anticipated that most students will complete the test sessions within these estimated times, all participating students will have a set amount of additional time for each session to provide them with ample time to demonstrate their knowledge.
Q. Will students in a particular class be given different test questions from each other based on their ability to answer questions based upon the complexity of other questions? Won’t this skew the test results in favor or lighter score?
A. Students will not be given different test questions based on their ability to answer questions. Test questions will be based on the Assessment Blueprints and Test Specifications documents located in www.parcconline.org/assessment-blueprints-test-specs
For test security reasons, a variety of test forms will be used, but no version will be more difficult than the other. The tests will be comparable from a psychometric standpoint.
Q. Will we still have to test SATP and PARCC next year?
A. Students will continue to take SATP2 Biology I and U.S. History assessments during the 2014-2015 school year. Additionally, students who have not yet passed an SATP2 exam will continue to retest on those same assessments. The PARCC Algebra I and PARCC English II assessments will also be administered as required tests for graduation during the 2014-2015 school year.
Q. So far Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia have withdrawn from assessments associated with CCSS. Has MS looked into this option? Why or why not?
A. No. We believe that the PARCC assessments represent a good value for our state and that they will provide our schools with access to higher quality assessments than we could develop on our own for a similar cost.
Q. When will we know what the assessment is?
A. The details of the PARCC assessments have been provided. A Performance Based Assessment (PBA) will be administered approximately three-fourths of the way through the school year. This assessment will focus on writing effectively when analyzing text for ELA/Literacy and applying skills, concepts, and understandings to solve multi-step problems for math.
A more traditional multiple choice End of Year Assessment (EOY) will be given towards the end of the year. This assessment will focus on reading comprehension for ELA/Literacy and conceptual understanding of the Major Content and Additional Supporting Content of the grade/course. For more information go to www.parcconline.org/3-8-assessments
Q. Best teaching practices include providing examples. When will examples be provided for in-class assessments, lesson plan templates, etc.?
A. Practice tests are tentatively scheduled to be released in the Spring 2014. Task item prototypes have been available for a year and are located at www.parcconline.org/samples/item-task-prototypes. New sample items were released on August 19, 2013. The Office of Curriculum and Instruction has provided grade band trainings for administrators and teachers since Fall 2010.
Over 15,000 educators have been trained through webinars. These webinars are located on MDE’s iTunes U site so that teachers can have continual access to them. The Southeast Comprehensive Center has created CCSS videos for mathematics and language arts for all grade bands for mathematics. More videos are being added weekly for language arts and mathematics and are located at http://secc.sedl.org/common_core_videos/index.php.
With regards to lesson plan templates, guidance has been provided for teachers from the Tri-State Quality Review Rubric for Lessons and Units. This rubric has been offered as guidance in all grade band teacher trainings.
Q. With all the explaining and essays required of students on the Common Core Test, how are they going to be graded?
A. The hand-scored items will be scored by professionally trained scorers at a scoring center that will be contracted through PARCC like Mississippi has done with past performance assessments like the MAAECF and the former Writing Assessments in grades 4, 7, and 10. A certain number of items will be doubled-scored by different scorers as part of the quality control process.
Q. Is it going to cost more than grading a multiple choice test?
A. Yes. Performance-based assessments will cost more to score because of the use of human scorers.
Q. Is science going to be tested?
A. Students will continue to take the existing MST2 in grades 5 and 8, and the SATP2 Biology I assessment.
Q. Will the only way the state will see that the state’s standards are met be through one single standardized test at the end of the year? And will this be the only data to measure if a school and/or district is successful?
A. School and district accountability as reported using the legislatively mandated letter grades (a, B, C, D and F) will continue to based student performance on the following assessments: English language arts / literacy and mathematics in grades 3-8; s
Q. Will our students be required to take more standardized tests as a result of Common Core?
A. Yes and no. Generally, students will continue to be assessed in the same subjects and grades that they are presently tested in today. However, due to the nature of what we expect students to know and do in terms of the new standards, a next generation of assessment will be needed. Students in Mississippi will now take a new performance-based component of the existing assessments.
Q. How do we compensate for the CCSS to which current high school students have not been exposed but yet will be held accountable for when PARCC testing is implemented?
A. Based upon a proposed implementation plan being considered, high school students will only be responsible for assessments after two years of CCSS-based instruction. All students should be taught in accordance with the CCSS for the 2013-2014 school year and the first high stakes assessments in English II and Algebra I will be offered in 2014-2015.
Q. What are we going to do about PARCC testing for districts that do not have the technology capacity or equipment necessary?
A. In the instance that a school does not have adequate technology to conduct the PARCC assessments, a certification process will exist for districts to request paper-based tests. These paper-based tests will cost approximately $5 more per student than the online assessments. It is possible that this cost increase will be paid by a reduced state allocation in offsetting the K-3 screener grant allocation.
Q. Isn’t this just more teaching to the TEST?
A. No. The CCSS provide students the opportunity to engage in rigorous content requiring higher-order thinking and application of knowledge. The element of guessing has been reduced significantly because for many of the multiple choice questions the students will have to select more than one correct answer. Some questions will require the students to select 3 correct answers out of 7 possible answer choices.
“Teaching the test” entails providing students with similar problems that could appear on the assessments and teaching strategies on how to correctly answer the question. This technique will be extremely difficult to do on PARCC assessments because in order for students to correctly answer the questions, they must have a deep conceptual knowledge of the standards. This level of understanding can only be achieved by teaching and connecting the standards and allowing the students to make connections between the standards and being able to explain their mathematical thinking.
Q. What Grades will be assessed on the Common Core State Standards? And, who will write the assessment items?
A. At this time, it is anticipated that students will take math and ELA assessments in grades 3-8. CCSS Algebra I or Integrated Math I will be assessed at the secondary level along with CCSS English I and CCSS English II. Assessment items are being developed by two assessment companies —Educational Testing Service (ETS) and Pearson—under a contract from PARCC. As a governing member of PARCC, MDE content specialists and a number of educators from around the state are serving on the assessment committees responsible for reviewing and revising the items.
Q. What will the Performance Based Assessments look like?
A. The PBA will be composed primarily of performance tasks with an emphasis on those hard-to-measure standards; and will be scored both by hand and machine. The PBA will take place over several sessions/class periods where students will complete a project-like task that draws on a range of skills. The PBA for ELA will focus on writing effectively when analyzing texts, using evidence drawn from the texts to support claims. The PBA for Math will require students to apply key mathematical skills, concepts, and processes to solve complex problems of the types encountered in everyday life, work and decision-making. It is expected that students will sit for up to 3 sessions in ELA and up to 3 sessions in Math. The number of sessions will depend on the technological capacity at the school level.
Q. What will the End of Year Assessments look like?
A. The EOY assessments will be primarily multiple choice and multiple-select in ELA and Math. The EOY will consist of a range of item types including technology-enhanced items that will assess the full range of grade level/course standards; and will be scored entirely by computer. It is expected that students will sit for up to 2 sessions in ELA and up to 2 sessions in Math. The number of sessions will depend on the technological capacity and scheduling decisions at the school level.
Q. Why hasn’t the MDE created sample assessment items to include in our current state assessments?
A. The Office of Student Assessment has decided not to develop items to include in the current state assessment series due to funding constraints and lack of resources.