Most states voluntarily adopted new, more rigorous academic standards in 2010 and 2011 and teachers have been using them since then in their daily instruction. As a result, states needed high-quality assessments aligned to those standards that would test students of all achievement levels on what they are learning.

Many of the old state tests measured only lower-level skills. The new assessments serve as an “educational GPS system,” measure students’ current performance, and point the way to what students need to learn by graduation so they are ready for college and/or a career.

Recent independent studies have found PARCC aligns to the standards and assessment criteria that matter most.

Who helped create the assessments?

Hundreds of classroom teachers, higher education faculty, subject experts and school administrators from participating states have dedicated thousands of hours to the development of the tests and will continue to be involved at every step. More than 30 educators and other experts, including parents and community members, reviewed each test question. Higher education professors and instructors have also collaborated alongside classroom teachers since the beginning to ensure the assessments track student progress toward college and career readiness.

How is PARCC different?

  • Assessments are taken on a computer. The goal of the online tests is to be more interactive for students, allow for greater accommodations and make it more efficient for schools to use results to improve instruction. In schools that are not yet ready, students take the tests on paper.
  • They allow students to show their work. On the new tests, students are required to show their work and explain their reasoning so teachers can better understand what they know and where there are gaps in learning that need to be addressed.
  • They are more than multiple choice tests. Rather than focusing on what a child has memorized through multiple choice questions, the new tests ask students to apply skills like thinking, reasoning and justifying answers — showing what they know and can do.
  • The tests do not lend themselves to “teaching to the test.” Since they focus on applying skills, it is the daily practice of these skills in the classroom that will serve as the best preparation for the tests.

What information will I get about my student’s educational progress?

Scores on the PARCC assessments are an academic check-up and will serve as an early indicator to teachers, students and parents whether students are on track for the next grade level and ultimately for college and careers. It will provide more than a score; it will also provide information about subsets of skills within each subject, showing areas in which your child excels or may need more support. Along with other information and scores, this will enable teachers and schools to adjust instruction and programs to meet student needs.

Who else gets this information besides parents and teachers?

A student’s score results and other personal information are highly protected and not shared with any parties beyond the child’s parent/guardian and school. No student-specific information is shared with outside groups or the federal government.

Data privacy and security are — and have always been — extremely important to PARCC and its member states, which have adopted a PARCC Data Privacy and Security Policy and implemented a rigorous set of policies and guidelines to protect student privacy and the security of data. Member states – not PARCC – maintain ownership of their data and make decisions over what is done with student information.

Scores on the new assessments are an academic checkup and will provide information to help teachers and schools adjust instruction to meet your child’s needs.

Help your child at home

Families of students in grades 3-8 can take advantage of the GreatKids Test Guide for Parents to better understand what their child was tested on and how to support their child’s learning, grade-by-grade and subject-by-subject. To get started, grab your score report and choose your state and the grade your child was in last year. Also available en Espanol.

PARCC Test Guide for Parents
Brought to you by

Top resources for parents

PARCC Released Items

The PARCC consortium has released the test questions from this year's PARCC end-of-year assessments. Click the link below to view the PDF versions of the released items, and to learn more about assessments in the classroom. Visit website >

Checklist: 5 Ways to Help Your Child

Here is a helpful five-step checklist for parents to help their kids get ready for testing. It features links to a host of resources from PARCC and partners such as the National Parent Teacher Association, Learning Heroes, Raise the Bar, and Great Kids, that provide parents and teachers with a host of information about the tests. Download PDF >