ETS has developed really nice overviews of the two competing plans for future assessments. They sum up huge applications in a single page and getting each group's agreement that the overview is sound. They're well-worth downloading for the informative visuals, and suitable for sharing with many audiences of educators, parents, and citizens. You can download by clicking Smarter Balanced, PARCC, or both.
Both groups have major plans for formative assessments and classroom supports, but I'm going to zoom in on the accountability elements of PARRC here, and do the same for Smarter Balanced later. PARCC is short for the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
Students in states that choose the PARCC approach will take four tests spread evenly the course of the school year.
The first two assessments each year will take single class period. In English language arts, students will have with one or two tasks that ask them to students to read texts, draw conclusions, and present analysis in writing. In math, they will complete one to three tasks that assess a standard or a cluster of standards.
The third will take several class periods. The English language arts task will be an essay or research paper based on a set of digital resources, requiring students to find and evaluate information and make choices about sources. For math, "students will perform multi-step performance task(s) that require conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and application of mathematical tools and reasoning, sometimes in unfamiliar contexts."
The final assessment each year will be a rapidly scored computerized test, and "the test will be composed of 40 to 65 questions with a range of item types, including innovative items."
Since Kentucky is currently a member of both consortia, this could be the model Kentucky will use starting in the 2014-15 school year.