Perfecting your PARCC Practice

PARCC Banner

When I was younger, I had a coach who always said, “Practice as you’ll perform, because you’ll perform as you Coachpracticed.” She was 100% correct. If I practiced with a specific bad habit, it appeared during game time. If I didn’t work to my full capacity, I was more winded during game time. It was important that I practiced as I wanted to perform–and I always told my students the same. Feeling comfortable with the testing arena is essential to actually demonstrating what you know. Nerves can play a huge part. Tests aren’t end all be alls–but they do matter. And, students want to do well and feel good. So, as their teacher, their educational coach, it’s my responsibility to know as much about what they will see as possible. My students need to know how to master the three types of questions that will appear:

That means we need to practice these types of questions. To be clear, that doesn’t mean we just do the PARCC practice tests over and over again, it means that the content I want to cover and teach in my class is assessed in an aligned format. That’s why I’m going to go through each question type and talk about how it appears on PARCC, how I coach my students to prepare for it, and how it has been recreated on Edcite.

Next page: EBSR Questions

January Teacher of the Month: Shelley Cline


It’s that time of the month again! This month, we chose to recognize Shelley Cline, a middle school teacher from Newcomerstown, Ohio. Though she only signed up in October of 2014, Shelley has quickly become an active, dedicated Edcite user. We hope you learn some great tips from Shelley!

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Shelley Cline, and this is my twelfth year as an employee of the Newcomerstown Exempted Village School District in Newcomerstown, Ohio. This is my fifth year teaching sixth grade English Language Arts. My husband’s name is Dennis, and we have a fifteen year old dog named Connie. We do not have any children unless you count my 73 sixth graders!

Why did you become a teacher?Shelley Cline (1)

After my high school graduation, I earned my undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Otterbein College. I worked in the banking industry for several years before moving back to my hometown to open a gymnastics business. It was through gymnastics that I learned how much I enjoyed working with children. A parent of two of my team members was a school principal, and she suggested that I become a substitute teacher for the local school district. I fell in love with teaching, so I went back to college to obtain my teaching license. I enjoy watching my students grow and mature both as students and as individuals throughout the course of the school year.

Why did you start using Edcite?

This year is the first year that students in Ohio will be taking the PARCC tests. Because of that, I spent a lot of time searching for the best resources to use with my students. In the fall, our district took part in a countywide in-service, and it was there that I learned about Edcite. Thank heavens!

How have you used Edcite in your classroom?

I have been using Edcite ever since to create my own tests and quizzes that are aligned to the Common Core Standards. I want my students to have as much experience with online testing as possible. They need to be proficient with keyboarding and understand how to manipulate the data for the new types of questions they will encounter (i.e., technology-enhanced constructed response questions, two-part questions, and multiple choice questions that require them to choose more than one answer). Practice makes perfect, and thanks to Edcite, I can make this type of practice possible for my students.

Any parting words of wisdom?

I urge other teachers to give this site a try because I truly feel that it will make a difference for their students.


PARCC’d on an Island


How two teachers in Nantucket, Massachusetts tackled PARCC preparation

Guest post by: Marita Scarlett and Chip Davis


It was a warm, sunny early fall day when we walked into the cafeteria for our staff meeting and PARCC practice test; Chip dreaming of surfing and me requesting access to my accommodations. How would I ever be able to focus on a standardized test in a hot, sunny room full of educators clicking away? All the noise buffering, bedazzled headphones in the world would not be enough to make this work for me. But we persevered, we labored through the PARCC practice tests. And then, we looked at each other, and our colleagues and wondered: how are our 8th graders EVER going to be able to take this test?

Chip, being the classic type A English teacher must have gone home and started researching immediately. I imagine him toiling away at his computer with a sticky note covered copy of Night in his back pocket, and the Common Core State Standards highlighted and marked up on his desk. What tools were out there? What were other teachers doing? How do I prepare my students without sacrificing my curriculum and teaching to the test? How on earth are my students going to be ready to take this test?

My fears were of a different variety. I have spent the last year teaching my students how to mark up the text, break down the words, restate the questions, use a graphic organizer. I have been teaching language based strategies for a paper based world, and now my students will be given a Chromebook, two pieces of blank paper and a pair of headphones and asked to prove what they can do. How do I scaffold them and give them the tools they need to show what they know? How do I keep their self-esteem in tact? How do I raise the bar and hold them accountable while giving them the support and the tools they need when I don’t even know what to offer?

Well, Chip came across Edcite and we got right to it. When Chip brought me the information, I coordinated with our Language Based Learning Disability Consultant for the three of us to get together. Chip had a plan (he always does) and I was ready to come along for the ride. We brainstormed about what the students would need to be successful, what their IEP’s allowed for, and compared these to the PARCC accommodations. Chip planned to create an assessment using multiple texts, based on the Holocaust unit we were wrapping up. Students would have excerpts from the class novel Night by Elie Wiesel and the Literature Circle novel that they were assigned based on interest and lexile levels. The test would mimic Part 1 of Performance Based Assessment in format and rigor. There would be questions with Part A and Part B as well as a constructed response. We decided that I would create a packet of checklists and graphic organizers for the students who required them and modify the grading, not the test itself since it was already differentiated with the multiple novels. We would allow students with the IEP accommodation of extra time the same extension they would get on the PARCC. But what about the students whose reading disability would keep them from accessing the texts?

I reached out to Edcite via email and much to my surprise I got a quick response from Amar asking if I could make time to phone conference with him and his team of educators. We connected with Talia at that time and she was able to guide me to resources through Google Chrome that would digitize the text so students could listen to the excerpts as they would be able to on the PARCC. The Edcite team was so helpful and responsive to us throughout the process.  When we asked if there was going to be a way to toggle between texts, the function appeared a few days later!

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 4.46.08 PM

Was it perfect and seamless? No, of course not! Formatting was difficult, especially for the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman; there were glitches with starting and stopping the test, and the scores were not what we had hoped for but all of our students stuck with it. We have plans to administer another Edcite exam, this one aligned with the reading of The Giver by Lois Lowry and the 3rd part of the 8th Grade Performance Based Assessment. Students will be asked to create a new ending to the novel, an extended narrative like the PARCC asks.

If you are looking for the assessments search “Night” and you will find 8 versions of the assessment. Keep an eye out for the upcoming The Giver assessment too! If you are interested in the checklists and graphic organizers I provided to students, feel free to email me at

Cheers and happy PARCC-type assessing!


Marita Scarlett (special educator) and Chip Davis (English teacher) co-teach 8th grade ELA at Cyrus Peirce Middle School in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Here are some of their outstanding PARCC-aligned assignments, where students compare the two texts mentioned in the title: (1) Night — Maus I and II (2) Night — Number the Stars (3) Night — Anne Frank.

sPARCC some PARCC Excitement!


Special thanks to Alison Mendralski (OH), Matt Zimmer (IL), Gabrielle Smith (OH), Jason Haap (OH), and Marita Scarlett (MA), Chip Davis (MA), and Sheri McAninch (OH) for reaching out to us about these PARCC question types and sharing your wonderful feedback with us!

Have you taken one of the PARCC practice tests yet? When you first go through the assessment, one thing you will quickly notice is that students will need a certain familiarity, even proficiency, with the technology used. In addition to a basic proficiency with technology, students will need to know how to navigate and use PARCC item types.
Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 6.01.51 PM

With Edcite, your students can gain this technological familiarity and, in fact, practice with the PARCC-specific question types themselves! Because of our growing PARCC community (thank you to our Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, and Massachusetts teachers especially!), we have added 8 new PARCC question types to Edcite! Combine these question types with the creativity of your curriculum, and you can equip your students with rigorous, high-quality practice assignments!

Here are some of the things we are most excited about our PARCC questions!

1. Annotation Tools: Students can now annotate the text through the use of a highlighter, and can eliminate answer responses with a strikethrough tool! These accommodations are also present on the PARCC exam and will make it easier for students to make their thinking visible.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 6.16.01 PM

2. Multiple Passages: students can toggle from one passage to another within the same screen. This is great for compare and contrast questions! You can also have students switch from a passage to a video or audio file, especially since multimedia is of utmost importance with the PARCC exams.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 6.15.52 PM3. Extended Select Text: with this question type, students can select multiple responses within a table. This is a neat way to create graphic organizers as well!

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 6.17.05 PM4. New Math Questions: We have 5 new math question types: fractions question, histogram question, number respond, PARCC multiple choice and pictograph question. These item types are great for asking students to answer questions in new, creative ways. And, on Edcite, even these rigorous questions can be auto-graded!).

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 6.24.42 PM

5. New PARCC-aligned assignments! We already have some excellent assignments created by teachers in PARCC states. Check out these resources and make sure to share them with your colleagues!

Multiplication Quiz (Grade 3)
Function Practice (Grade 8)
Grade 11 Crucible Assignment
Middle School ELA

We hope you enjoy exploring these new PARCC question types, and we can’t wait to see the content you create with it! As always, if you have feedback for us on these tools or on any part of Edcite, please let us know!