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Illinois PARCC Explainer

PARCC Score Reports are designed to help teachers, parents, and students better understand students’ strengths. The PARCC test measures students’ progress towards the content and critical thinking skills they need in order to be prepared for college and a career. (Click here to view a sample report.)

Here are some questions parents can ask as they read their child’s PARCC report:

  • Readiness: Is my child on track for college?
  • Frame of reference: How does my child compare to other children in his or her school, school district, and state?
  • Take action: What are my child’s strengths? What areas does my child need to focus on?

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Overall Performance

For each subject, math and English Language Art, students can score a between 500 – 580 total points. These points are divided into 5 levels, from Level 1, for a child in need of the greatest amount support, to Level 5, for a child who is very well-prepared for the next grade level. Here are the five levels defined in more detail:

  • Level 1: Minimal Understanding. The student demonstrated very little understanding of the subject. Students at this level will need a lot of academic support to be on track for the next grade level.
  • Level 2: Partial Understanding. The student demonstrated some understanding of the subject, but still don’t understand it completely. Students at this level will need some academic support to be on track for the next grade level.
  • Level 3: Adequate Understanding. The student demonstrated a good understanding of the subject. They are on track for the next grade level but may still need some additional support.
  • Level 4: Strong Understanding. The student demonstrated a strong understanding of the subject and is well-prepared for the next grade level.
  • Level 5: Distinguished Understanding. The student demonstrated a great understanding of the topic and is well-prepared for the next grade level.

The Overall Performance section also allows parents to compare their child’s overall score to the average score for children in the same grade level in their child’s school, school district, state, or across the country.

The Margin of error represents the amount of change parents might expect to see in their child’s score if the child took the test many times.

Additional Information about Your Child’s Mathematics Score

The Additional Information section breaks down a child’s overall performance into specific skills and compares how the child performed compared to students at Level 3 or students on grade level. The icons next to each section show whether the child is above, below, or near students performing on grade level.

Each section includes a description of the specific skills in that area that demonstrate a clear understanding of the standards in that grade level. For instance, a student at a Level 3 for Modeling and Application can apply math strategies and reasoning to solve real world problems.

Reading Performance/Writing Performance

The English Language Arts / Literacy report also breaks down students’ scores by their performance in reading and writing.

The Range describes how many possible points a student could score – in this case, on the reading section, a student could score between 0 to 40 points. Like the Additional Information section, this breakdown allows parents to compare their child’s specific performance in reading or writing to other children in their school, school district, or state. The Avg. of Student at Level 3 conveys the average score of a student on grade level.

How to Use This Information

After reading this report, you can identify your child’s strengths and needs. Using this information, meet with your child’s teacher to discuss your child’s PARCC report. If your child struggled in certain areas, ask your child’s teacher how to get them back on track, including practicing skills at home and identifying resources for extra help. If your child excelled in certain areas, ask your child’s teacher how to continue to challenge them, including enrichment activities or advanced coursework.

The PARCC test is like a doctor’s checkup - a tool to make sure parents know how their children are doing on their path to college and a career. If you have any more questions about PARCC, the score report, or your child’s performance, make sure to check in with the teachers at your school.

The PARCC Consortium has a short video overview for parents that provides additional info.

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