How to Prepare Your Child for the PARCC Test
What Is the PARCC Test?
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a set of tests covering math and English. The assessments are based on the common core standards developed by the Obama administration. PARCC replaces the old No Child Left Behind (NCLB) tests required by the Bush administration.
Since this test is so new there's little in the way of sample or practice tests available and it's crucial that children be prepared in advance. If your child attends school, they'll be going through a lot of test preparation. If you homeschool through a public school program, you'll have to do the test prep yourself. This was easy with the old test because there were so many complete sample tests available. These are some things you can do to prepare your kids for the tests.
I've found only a few. They'll give you and your child an idea of how PARCC test questions are structured. The older tests were very straight-forward. The new test has questions that can be more confusing and tricky especially for elementary age kids. Some questions can be solved multiple ways, so more numbers might be given than is necessary for some approaches. As an example, a word problem might give four different numbers but the problem may be solvable just using two or three. So, it helps to go over sample tests multiple times with your child to prepare them for this.
These are a few sample tests you can use. The Pearson test has both a print and online option. It may be best to start off with the print version to get your child acquainted with how to solve the problems. Afterwards, have them do it online since the actual test will be taken on a computer.
Test Practice Books
Lumos Learning has test prep books for both Math and Language Arts. Each book has two Performance Based Assessments (PBA) tests and two End-of-Year (EOY) Assessments. The have answer keys and explanations.
Get at least one test practice book that's based on the Common Core standards. Your child can start working on these books about 2 months or so before the test. Some options are the Common Core 4 Today, which offers Language Arts and math books per grade. Spectrum offers a series of books that combine math and Language Arts. Common Core Math Workouts books are offered for 6th through 8th grade.
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Learningfarm.com and IXL.com are two great test preparation websites. The questions given aren't exactly like what will appear on the PARCC test but they do cover all the topics that will come up. Learningfarm.com costs $49 for a full year. It offers math and Language Arts tests and games for 2nd through 8th grade.
IXL is free if you do only 20 questions a day. You can get unlimited access for just $9.95 a month for one subject or $15.95 for both Language Arts and Math. I signed up for the month of April to prepare for the test in May. The membership will auto renew so you must cancel within 30 days. If you cancel before the end of the month, your membership will remain in effect until the full month ends. The IXL math tests are pre-k through 8th grade and also cover Algebra. Language Arts is for 2nd through 5th grade.
IXL provides lists of topics that are part of common core math at http://www.ixl.com/standards/common-core/math and Language Arts at http://www.ixl.com/standards/common-core/ela.
Criticism of the PARCC Test
There is some criticism of the common core tests and standards for being developmentally inappropriate for younger children. Some of the questions are very confusing for younger students. The Washington Post published an article with criticism of the tests called Why young kids are struggling with Common Core math. They give an example of a confusing 4th grade question that will give you some idea of what your child will face on these tests.