Passaic Valley High School

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Changing QBAs in the Name of PARCC Prep

Valley Echo

Ahmad Mubarak'17 and Derek Pezo'19
8 March 2017

PARCC is just around the corner and the administration has started planning for its arrival. This year the  plan is  to improve test scores and emphasize various types of learning. The leadership team met to discuss strategies and decided to change  the format of the Quarterly Baseline Assessments (QBAs) Student takes practice PARCC;Photo taken by Mr. Cornelius Vaness to resemble that of the PARCC tests. Not every QBA is changing; English and Social Studies courses are the focus of this change.

“Essentially, we have been encouraged to create QBA's that resemble a ‘PARCC like’ format,” said social studies teacher Mr. Bill Robertazzi.

“The history department has been adding more reading comprehension type questions. For example, we have excerpts from speeches and other historical documents with two-part multiple-choice questions attached. This is very much how students will see it on the PARCC exams.”

The PARCC format includes paired readings and Evidence Based Selected Responses (EBSRs). These are the questions where students must answer a Part A and B in each question. Students have to answer Part A of the question correctly in order to get full credit, even if Part B is correct. Part A questions are "what" questions and Part B's are "why" questions that ask students to find the text in the reading that supports/proves the answer in Part A. Short and/or long essay responses follow the EBSRs.

Students must use critical thinking and close reading skills on the PARCC. Each of these skills and question types will be incorporated into the third marking period QBA's. The English and Social Studies staffs began this transition for the second marking period QBAs but expanded it for this marking period.

While teachers prepared to write these new QBA's, it was important that they did not lose classroom-teaching time. “Part of this change [to the QBA] was making sure we weren’t invading the classroom and changing the way teachers taught,” said Mr. Jared Fowler, assistant principal of Humanities.

Mr. Robertazzi described the advantages that this will bring to the students. “In a way it’s good for the students as they don’t have to study or memorize things... rather they  show up on the day of the test and are prepared to read and comprehend. Although it [PARCC] may not be necessarily easy, the preparation for the test has definitely been changed.”

Ms.  Mary Lou Bednarski, supervisor of Humanities, fully supports these changes and is hopeful for what this can bring students. “I think any change that will help kids be prepared for critical thinking is great. Hopefully they will be confident when taking PARCC and do well.”

Third Marking Period QBAs begin March 13th and end March 17th. The schedule is as follows: 

Monday, March 13th - World Language and Science

Tuesday, March 14th - Social Studies and Art/Music/Home Economics

Wednesday, March 15th - English and Business/Technology

Thursday, March 16th - Math

Friday, March 17th - Make-up Day and Zero Period

Phys Ed /Health classes will take their QBAs on Wednesday, March 22nd.