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PARCC PRACTICE -- Let's Get Ready!

Getting our students ready for PARCC!



Section I = things you should know

Section II = websites & ideas to help get students ready for PARCC

SECTION I: source:

Familiarize yourself, then students, with PARCC. There is a lot of misinformation out there about PARCC. To best prepare your kids, it is important that you know the facts and logistics of the test. Things like session schedules, unit times, and how to use accommodations are important for you to understand so you can properly inform students. The PARCC manuals are available for anyone to read here and you can find more information about PARCC on the Pearson website here.

Take the Practice Tests. The first time students see PARCC shouldn’t be the first time they take PARCC. The most important thing you can do to prepare your students is give them the practice PARCC tests, which can be found here. Let them play around in the testing environment until they feel confident navigating the test, experiencing PARCCs often maligned directions, and answering the unique question types. Some questions on the PARCC are above or below grade level, so don’t be afraid to give a higher or lower grade practice test to students as well. If you have students with accommodations like answer masking or text-to-speech, make sure you show students how they work. You can find the accommodations tutorials here.

Know Your Resources. There are a growing number of websites out there whose goal is to make it easier for teachers to create PARCC-like assessments. Often billed as “Next Generation Assessments,” sites like Edulastic and ReadWorks (with its outstanding paired texts feature) can help lighten your load when it comes to getting students ready for testing.

Simulate PARCCs Testing Environment with Google Apps For Education. If you can’t find resources you like, consider making your own! You can make a surprisingly effective PARCC-like assessment using Google Sites, Forms, and YouTube. You can check out a piece I wrote on the topic and in-depth examples here. Even if you don’t go to the lengths I did, I would highly suggest you at least make use of Google Form’s Checkbox Question feature. A major difference between PARCC and the older forms of standardized tests is that some questions ask students to choose the best answer, not the right answer. Sometimes these types of questions will even have students pick more than one best answer. Students will know these types of questions by the ability to place checks, instead of dots, next to their answer. Many of my kids left the practice PARCC saying, “For some of the questions, the answers were all kind of right.”

Use Google Drawings to Simulate PARCC Drag and Drop Questions. The drag and drop nature of many PARCC questions has been hard to emulate effectively. I’ve had the most success using Google Drawings. Pushing one drawing out a day to kids via an LMS like Google Classroom or Schoology has been an effective form of practice. You can see an example I made here. Don’t forget to have students make a copy to interact with the Drawing.

Work Smart, Not Hard. If you need to communicate with Pearson, try the PARCC live chat for troubleshooting, which I have found works well even when PARCC phone lines were down or busy. The live feature feature can be found on Access Next’s main page (after you sign in), toward the bottom, right of the page. I like chat best, because I don’t have to be tied to a phone while I wait for them to answer.

It is important that we take PARCC preparation seriously: not to teach to the test, but to make sure that staff and students know what to expect. By preparing staff and students on what to expect from PARCC, we’ve had a smooth rollout at the Fair Haven School District, and early student polling is showing that students’ spirits are high and PARCC wasn’t that bad.



NEW IN 2017!  7 Tips for Success Using Study Island Practice:What does Study Island standards-based practice look like in your classroom?  Click here.

1. Practice sessions level the playing field.

2. Practice formats are flexible.

3. Blue Ribbons allow you to celebrate mastery.

4. Students can save their work and return later.

5. Practice content comes from a large item pool.

6. Straightforward sessions minimize loopholes for students.

7. Practice meets students at the right instructional level.



#1  Practice TECH VOCAB -- Wowzers_PARCC_Vocab_PDF.pdf

Wowzers created this pdf last year, which was used in LBJ's tech classes to help prepare last year's 8th graders for online testing.

Each page has helpful Online Testing Terms for understanding PARCC Vocabulary which is vital to student success. 


  • The best way may be to share this information via your promethean board/projector for sharing & discussing with the whole class. 
  • Post in your classroom.


  • BEFORE going to practice PARCC in a computer lab.


  • Review several times before the actual PARCC.

#2 ONLINE PARCC PRACTICE -- TestNav App (desktops, ipads & chromebook)

Is loaded on all computers in each computer lab and on teacher laptops (must have requested).  The TestNav App is in the Applications folder (if you requested it be loaded for you).  Double click on the app to be taken to the practice site. 

Once at the site you have the option to practice:

STUDENT INSTRUCTIONS for navigating to PARCC practice section using TESTNAV.

  • ELA Tutorial Overview (Moving Through the Test and Understanding the Toolbar)
  • ELA/Literacy Turtorials
  • Accommodated ELA/Lteracy Tutorials
  • MATH Tutorial Overview (Moving Through the Test and Understanding the Toolbar)
  • Math Tutorials
  • Accommodated Tutorials


  • Can be share with a whole class on promethean boards/projectors classroom.
  • Can be practiced by each student in a computer lab.


  • BEFORE the PARCC test!


  • Several times before the actual PARCC.

NEW in 2017 #2A Practice and Training Tests

Click on "SIGN IN," no username and password required. Select a grade & click YES, select Math or ELA test, click YES, no need to set up testing environment, just click on SELECT, YES START MY TEST, BEGIN TEST at the bottom until you get to begin test.

The Smarter Balanced Practice Test and the Training Test provide students with a preview of test questions aligned to academic standards for grades 3–8 and high school in both English language arts/literacy and math. Both resources can help teachers and students prepare for the Smarter Balanced assessments.  This is not the PARCC practice, it's more of a training for online tests practice site.




If students get tired of doing the PARCC practice, have them go to these websites and continue to practice the following skills for GRADES 6-8). Practice Keyboarding, mouse skills, drag & drop, and navigation.


  • Go to a computer lab and use this site to practice specific skills
  • Use your promethean board/projector and go over each type of skill (if not going to the lab).


  • In class or computer lab, review as often as possible.  Maybe teams can coordinate who can cover certain skills on various weeks and rotate this duty as you see fit.


  • Review several times before the actual PARCC.


#4 Text to Speech for MATH (Accommodations for SpEd, ELL, 504 students)

This tutorial will help familiarize students with how to use the TestNav 8 computer-based accommodations.


  • Go to a computer lab and use this site to practice specific text-to-speech skills.
  • REMEMBER the accommodation must have been used (many many times) in the classroom setting prior to be used in a test setting.


  • In class or computer lab--before PARCC.


  • Review several times before the actual PARCC only use if students have ACCOMMODATIONS stated in their IEP, 504, etc..