PARCC English Language Arts

Table of Contents

General Information

Ohio is among 22 states that are working as a consortium, called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math. The assessments will be anchored in what it takes to be ready for college and careers, and will be ready for states to administer during the 2014-15 school year.

To check for updates log onto the PARCC Homepage. Take a look at PARCC Item and Task Prototypes under The PARCC Assessment section. The prototypes provided to date represent just a beginning to the complement of items and tasks that PARCC will share over time to represent the full range of assessment tasks on actual PARCC assessments beginning in 2014-2015.

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Model Content Framework

The Model Content Framework is to serve as a bridge between the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC assessments. They are designed with the following purposes in mind:


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Reading Text Complexity

Exposing students to grade-level texts of appropriate complexity lies at the heart of each module. The modules reflect the balance of 50 percent informational text and 50 percent literature that students are expected to read, including reading in ELA, science, social studies, and the arts.
Reading Complex Text Examples:

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Blueprints & Test Specs

PARCC has released a set of test specification documents, including assessment blueprints and evidence statement tables, to help educators understand the design of the PARCC assessments. You can view and download several sets of specifications for ELA/Literacy  including evidence statement tables.

  • Blueprints are a series of documents that together describe the content and structure of an assessment. These documents define the total number of tasks and/or items for any given assessment component, the standards measured, the item types, and the point values for each.

  • 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, and highlight their advances especially around the coherent nature of the standards.

  • Performance-Based Assessment (PBA) administered after approximately 75% of the school year. The ELA/Literacy PBA will focus on writing effectively when analyzing text.

  • Mid-Year Assessment (MYA) comprised of performance-based items and tasks, with an emphasis on hard-to-measure standards. After study, individual states may consider including the MYA as a summative component.

  • End-of-Year Assessment (EOY) administered after approximately 90% of the school year. The ELA Literacy EOY will focus on reading comprehension.

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Released Items

The primary purpose of sharing samples of PARCC items is to provide information about the assessment system and support educators as they transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the PARCC tests. The samples presented here are designed to shine a light on important elements of the CCSS and to show how critical content in the standards may appear in PARCC’s next-generation, technology-based assessments.

Below is a table with the released items for each grade level and course.

Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
Items & Annotation Items & Annotation  Items & Annotation

Eliza's Cherry Trees

Kira Kira

Life in the Limbs

The Peanut Man Cougar and Cricket  
How Animals Live    

How Animals Live (Item: 1)

How Animals Live (Item: 2)    

Multiple Choice Item

Part: A & B

Drag & Drop Item    
Grade 6
Grade 7
Grade 8
Items & Annotation Items & Annotation Items & Annotation
Item Overview Item Overview Item Overview
Julie of the Wolves Biography of Amelia Earhart Call of the Wild
Julie of the Wolves (Item: 1) Brian's Winter
Julie of the Wolves (Item: 2) Earhart's Final Resting Place  
Julie of the Wolves (Item: 3) Amelia Earhart: Life and Disappearance  
Julie of the Wolves (Item: 4)

Amelia Earhart: Life and Disappearance (video)


Multiple Choice Item 1:

Part A & B

Biography of Amelia Earhart (Item 1)  

Multiple Choice Item 2:

Part A & B

Biography of Amelia Earhart (Item 2)  

Multi-Select & Open Response Item 3:

Part A, B, & C 

Biography of Amelia Earhart (Item 3)  
Constructed Response Item 4 Constructed Response Item 1  
  Highlight Item 2  
  Constructed Response Item 3  
Grade 9
Grade 10
Grade 11
Items & Annotations Items & Annotations Items & Annotations
Item Overview Item Overview Item Overview
Fields of Fingerprints Ovid's Metamorphoses: Daedalus and Icarus Passage #1 Permission Pending
  To A Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph Abigail Adams

Ovid's Metamorphoses

(Item 1)

John Adams

Ovid's Metamorphoses

(Item 2)


Ovid's Metamorphoses

(Item 3)


Ovid's Metamorphoses

(Item 4)

  Multiple Choice & Multi-Select Item 1: Part A & B  

Multi-Select Item 2:

Part A & B

  Constructed Response Item 3  
 Constructed Response Item 4  

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Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs)

In English language arts/literacy, Performance Level Descriptors are written for the two assessment claims of reading and writing.

For the reading claim, the performance levels at each grade level are differentiated by three factors: (1) text complexity; (2) the range of accuracy in expressing reading comprehension demonstrated in student responses; and (3) 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.

For the writing claim, PLDs are written for the two sub-claims: (1) written expression, and (2) 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.

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Practice Tests

Practice Tests* - PARCC has released free, online practice tests available to all schools and districts. The Practice Tests include technology-enhanced items and are on the same technology platform used for field testing, allowing students and educators in all PARCC states to become more familiar with the types of items that appear on the PARCC assessments. The Practice Tests include a sample of assessment items for each grade level/course and are accompanied by a set of scoring guidance. Some accessibility features and accommodations are included on the Practice Tests to allow students the opportunity to interact with the various tools and supports that will appear on the test, such as color contrast, magnification, and notepad features. *To access the Practice Tests, click the Practice Tests tab at the top of the webpage.

Math and English Language Arts Sample Items Released

The Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has posted sample items in Math and English Language Arts on a new, interactive platform. The sample items originally appeared on the PARCC website as PDF documents. Now, students, teachers, and parents will be able to click on and complete the sample items to get a better sense of how the online tests will work.

Below are links to the sample items for three grade bands.

Grade 3-5  

Grade 6-8

High School

PARCC also is offering online tutorials that demonstrate how students will navigate the Math and English Language Arts tests. Meanwhile, for those interested in technology training or are looking for more information on test administration, PARCC has a series of video modules.

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Writing Rubrics

The PARCC Summative Assessments will include three performance-based tasks, each culminating in a prose constructed response (PCR) item. The narrative writing task requires that students write using a text stimulus, but the response is scored only for written expression and knowledge of language and conventions. The other two PCRS, associated with the Research Simulation Task and the Literary Analysis Task, are scored for reading, written expression, and knowledge of language and conventions.
PARCC has developed draft generic rubrics for the scoring of the three PCR items. The language of these rubrics is aligned to the CCSS, the PARCC writing evidences, and the PARCC content specific performance-level descriptors at the given grade level. To ensure reliable scoring of each PCR, PARCC will create an item specific scoring guide that includes sample scored and annotated student writings produced in response to the specific item. Human scorers will be trained to use the item-specific scoring guides developed for each PCR, with reliability of scoring for each scorer checked carefully throughout the scoring process.

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More Information

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Last Modified: 4/2/2014 11:07:32 AM

Pursuant to ORC 3301.079 (B) (3) and 3313.60, it is the responsibility of Ohio's local boards of education to vet and approve curriculum and educational materials for use in the public schools within their district. The use of any materials posted or linked to on the Ohio Department of Education website, including materials within the Common Core State Standards or Appendices or any state model curricula or other educational resource material, is entirely up to the discretion of each local board of education.