Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers

ELA/Literacy

Helping you to understand the Summative Assessments

The state summative English language arts/literacy tests are available in Grades 3-8 and high school. Students read and analyze passages from real texts — fiction and nonfiction — and sometimes watch video or listen to audio. They write, using what they’ve learned from the passages and multimedia to support their arguments. These skills are critically important for students in college and in the workplace.

In the past, students have typically been asked to write only once in each grade span — in elementary, middle, and high school. PARCC measures writing at every grade because it is key to showing readiness for the next academic work, and in high school, readiness for college and career.

PARCC has released a set of test specification documents, including high-level assessment blueprints and evidence statement tables, to help educators and the general public better understand the design of the state summative assessments.

PARCC reports results according to five performance levels that delineate the knowledge, skills, and practices students are able to demonstrate:

  • Level 1: Did not yet meet expectations
  • Level 2: Partially met expectations
  • Level 3: Approached expectations
  • Level 4: Met expectations
  • Level 5: Exceeded expectations

Performance level descriptors describe what a typical student at each level should be able to demonstrate based on his/her command of grade-level standards.

ELA/Literacy test specification documents

Understanding Summative Assessment Design

Test specification documents help educators and the general public better understand the design of the PARCC ELA/literacy assessments. These documents were updated no earlier than July 2015, based on the new assessment design.

High-level blueprints define the total number of tasks and/or items for any given grade/course assessment for both parts of the test.

ELA/Literacy Form Specifications Documents

Forms specifications documents (high-level blueprints) define the total number of tasks and/or items for any given grade/course assessment.

Spring 2017

Evidence Statement Tables and Evidence Statements describe the knowledge and skills that an assessment item or a task elicits from students. These are aligned directly to the Common Core State Standards.

Reading Evidence Tables

Writing Evidence Tables

ELA/Literacy Task Models

ELA/Literacy Task Models guide the development of performance-based tasks (collections of items) that have a particular focus and elicit targeted evidences aligned to standards.

Text Analysis Worksheets

Text Analysis Worksheets help determine grade-level placement and the complexity level of passages for use on the PARCC Assessment.

ELA/Literacy Scoring Rubrics

ELA/Literacy scoring rubrics are tools for scoring students’ written responses. In July 2015, PARCC states updated the scoring rubrics, combining the reading comprehension and written expression traits. PARCC state educators who called for this update did so because information from the PARCC state spring tests indicated that teachers and scorers would be better able to use the rubrics reliably with the revisions made.

As in the past, PARCC states’ decisions were a direct result of applying both research results and educator input. Educators working on this update believe the updated rubrics will be more usable, while simultaneously honoring the focus of the CCSS through the integration of reading and writing. Students will continue to receive both a reading and a writing score for their written responses.

Other Materials

ELA performance-level descriptors

Grades 3-11

PARCC reports results according to five performance levels that delineate the knowledge, skills, and practices students are able to demonstrate:

  • Level 1: Did not yet meet expectations
  • Level 2: Partially met expectations
  • Level 3: Approached expectations
  • Level 4: Met expectations
  • Level 5: Exceeded expectations

Performance level descriptors (PLDs) indicate what a typical student at each level should be able to demonstrate based on his/her command of grade-level standards. In English language arts (ELA)/literacy, the PLDs at each grade level are written for the two assessment claims of reading and writing.

Reading Claim

For the reading claim, the performance levels at each grade level are differentiated by three factors:

  • Text complexity
  • The range of accuracy in expressing reading comprehension demonstrated in student responses; and
  • The quality of evidence cited from sources read

This is an innovative departure from how ELA/literacy performance level descriptors have been written in the past, but reflective of the Common Core’s emphasis on a student’s ability to find text-based evidence for generalizations, conclusions, or inferences drawn and consistent with PARCC’s Cognitive Complexity Framework for ELA/Literacy.

The Cognitive Complexity Framework guides item development and recognizes that text complexity and item/task complexity interact to determine the overall complexity of a task.

Download the framework: PARCC’s ELA/Literacy Cognitive Complexity Framework

Writing Claim

For the writing claim, PLDs are written for the two sub-claims:

  • Written expression
  • Knowledge of language and conventions

Factors differentiating the performance levels for writing include how consistently and fully students develop ideas, including when drawing evidence from one or more sources, how well they organize their writing, and their command of grammar and language usage.

Performance Level Descriptors

The PLDs are available below to download and review by grade level, grade band or as a complete package.

Performance Level Descriptors by Grade

Performance Level Descriptors by Grade Band