Optional Tools (Non-Summative)

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To help teachers assess the extent to which students are on track to mastering the Common Core standards at their grade levels, PARCC is developing diagnostic and mid-year tools in reading, writing and mathematics, in addition to K-1 formative tools and speaking and listening tools. All of the tools listed below are optional.


The overarching purpose of the PARCC diagnostic tools is to provide instructionally useful information to educators about how well students have learned, or how prepared they are to learn key content and skills tied to the standards.  With this information, educators can: 

  • More efficiently provide students with appropriate instructional support, and
  • Better identify students who require intense interventions or enrichment activities in order to meet (or exceed) grade level performance targets.

​K-2 Formative

PARCC envisions a set of innovative tools to support teachers at kindergarten and first grade.  As with the grades 2-8 diagnostic tools, the primary purpose for these tools is to provide educators with instructionally useful information related to how students demonstrate proficiencies (including in relation to content progressions), and to provide that information at an appropriate level of detail and specificity to supplement a teacher’s current understanding of student proficiency.

The formative tools will be incorporated into the curriculum and gather information about student learning in a way that seeks to be “invisible” to the student - that is, the formative experiences are designed to fit within the regular experience of young students.  This provides teachers with information they can use to adjust instruction as appropriate.

The diagnostic tools will be available in fall 2015, for use in the 2015-16 school year.

Mid-year/Interim Modules

Designed to mirror the PARCC performance-based assessments, the mid-year/interim modules will provide students and educators the ability to work with constructed response and machine score-able items for formative purposes (student results will not be part of their PARCC score).   The modules are designed to inform curriculum, instruction and professional development. These tools will be performance-based and focus on difficult-to-assess standards, including writing effectively when analyzing texts in English language arts/literacy and applications/modeling and reasoning in mathematics. As with all of the non-summative tools, these are for optional use by states and districts.

The mid-year/interim modules in grades 3-11 will be ready for use in the 2014-15 school year.

Speaking and Listening Tools

As described in the Common Core State Standards, the ability of students to proficiently engage in speaking and listening activities is critical for their long-term opportunities.  PARCC has developed claims for the speaking and listening tools that align with the standards.  Two major claims serve as the expected reporting categories for the tools:

  • Listening. Students gain and demonstrate understanding of complex information, ideas, and evidence presented orally.  (Grades K-12)
  • Speaking. Students present complex information, ideas, and evidence effectively in speech. (Grades K-12)

In addition, given the anticipated design of the assessments, there are two supporting claims for which there should be evidence for classroom teachers to determine student abilities and to gather formative data to inform instruction as a result of student work produced in response to the PARCC speaking and listening tools:

  • Research. Students gather, build, and present knowledge through research and the integration, comparison, and synthesis of ideas. (Grades 2-12)
  • Reading. Students read and demonstrate understanding of grade level complex texts. (Grades 2-12)

The Common Core standards are designed to encourage meaningful integration of the reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language standards. While the reporting categories are built to ensure information is provided regarding speaking and listening, the design of the tools and these supporting claims are intended to build authentic integrations of the strands in the standards where possible.

Through multiple interactions with speaking and listening assessment activities, students and teachers will gain a deeper understanding of students’ progress in mastering these crucial skills. These optional tools will be available for use in grades K-12 in the 2015-16 school year.  

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