Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers

Performance Levels

Knowledge, Skills, and Practices

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 for English language arts/literacy and mathematics describe what a typical student at each level should be able to demonstrate based on his/her command of grade-level standards.

A variety of stakeholders, nominated by the states, participated in panels during summer 2015 to review the assessments. To determine what range of scores best matches each performance level, panelists used the performance level descriptors and actual test results and compared them to empirical studies to make their judgments. Each group went through at least three rounds of review per assessment to develop the “threshold scores,” also known as “cut scores,” for each performance level.

Two research studies were also conducted to help inform this process: a postsecondary faculty judgment study; and a benchmark study of the SAT, ACT, NAEP, TIMSS, and PISA tests. State education chiefs from PARCC member states met in August and September 2015 to adopt common, performance-level threshold scores based on these recommendations.

More information to help parents understand their child’s scores, along with a variety of resources to support students’ achievement can be found at

Download additional information about the PARCC Performance levels: