Our district, like many across the state, is preparing for the new standardized test that is going to rule and dictate how we teach and what we teach. PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) is the newest exam that is being wheeled out for the following school year, and it has many (if not all!) of us going through a loop trying to figure it all out.
What is most drastic about PARCC is that it now effects all subjects,whereas, the HSPA exam tended to focus on just English and Math classes. Also, students will be expected now more than ever before to truly understand how to comprehend and decipher nonfiction information in its many forms: articles, periodicals, maps, photographs, charts, etc… This brings a HUGE shift in what education needs to do and teachers and administrators are planning on making the necessary adjustments to prepare our students for what they are up against.
With this, my role in the school–as the librarian–has drastically shifted. I am happily welcoming more and more staff members with their various questions and inquiries for information and information sources. What I am finding to be very successful in my school is NewsELA.com. Teachers are struggling with finding news articles that their students (of varying reading levels) will be able to engage and discuss. NewsELA is wonderful in that not only does it provide current events articles of various subjects, it allows the teacher to ‘level’ the reading so that they can have their stronger and weaker students all understanding the same piece. And even more, many of the articles come with ready-made quizzes (and answer keys!) that are displayed alongside the articles. Upon presentation of this resource, I have heard amazing feedback! The teachers are truly happy to have an easy-to-use website that provides valuable resources for their classes.
Resources like NewsELA help alleviate the stress and struggle behind preparing for the various changes and shifts in education. PARCC is just one of many hurdles that we all have to jump in education.