From February, 2015

PARCC: Ninth Grade PBA Test Analysis and Preparation

In preparation for the ninth grade PARCC Performance Based Assessment (PBA), I have accumulated a few helpful resources for teachers.  Here is a summary of the test:

PARCC Analysis

Students will have two out of three of the following tasks to complete:

  • Literary Analysis
  • Research
  • Narrative

Each of these tasks will have one to three accompanying readings.



  • 16 questions and 4 reading passages total (on sample test)
    • 2 essays and 13 multiple choice questions total
  • Each reading is followed by 3-5 MC questions
  • Each task (essay) has 1-3 readings that are required to complete it


  • Each multiple choice question has a part “A” and a part “B”
    • Part A is choosing an answer to a question
    • Part B is choosing detail(s) from the passage(s) to support the answer given for part A of the question

Description of Tasks


TEXTS: 3 non-fiction readings, two of which are primary source documents (a speech and a letter)

QUESTIONS: 9 multiple-choice questions

  • Determining meaning of words and phrases based upon context
    • Choosing details from the text to support
  • Analyzing argumentative and rhetorical structures
    • Choosing details from the text to support
  • Summarizing the central argument or main idea
    • Choosing details from the text to support
  • Comparing and contrasting arguments or information from the sources
    • Choosing details from the text to support

ESSAY: Compare and contrast a central argument to each piece, analyzing the effectiveness of the claims and giving evidence to support your perspective


TEXTS: 1 narrative passage

QUESTIONS: 5 multiple-choice

  • Making inferences about the characters and events
    • Choosing details from the passage to support
  • Analyzing the effect of words and phrases based upon context
    • Choosing details from the passage to support
  • Identifying a central theme
    • Choosing details from the passage to support

ESSAY: Re-write the narrative using the perspective of another character, emphasizing certain details of the account


NOTE: There wasn’t a literary analysis task for the ninth grade test, but here is an example of what that might look like based upon the tenth grade test:


TEXTS: Two narrative passages

  • Vocabulary and choosing a sentence of context to support
  • Determining central theme and a passage to support
  • Examining the author’s choice in structure to support a specific literary purpose

ESSAY: Comparative characterization what are the differences in the author’s approach to developing a central character


  • Just because there is true information in the answer, it does not mean it is correct; make sure that the answer you mark appropriately answers the question asked
    • Multiple of the answer options are “true” based upon information from the text
    • If you have to justify your evidence for an answer in part “B,” your part “A” is probably not correct; there should be a clear connection to the part A and the answer you choose
    • You must get all parts of the question correct to receive points
  • For non-fiction texts and research/argumentative tasks be familiar with grade level argumentative language such as claim, counterclaim, evidence etc.

Here is the test analysis and tips for students in a handout that can be downloaded.

In addition to this resource, there are also resources available through the PARCC website that might be helpful.

Here is a link that might be helpful for helping students to navigate PARCC.
From the link, you can do the following:
  • Test Nav 8: This tutorial walks students through the features of the math and ELA test
  • Online Student Tutorial, HS ELA: This tutorial provides practice fort he types of questions students might see on the test
If I were using these in the classroom, I might just look through them myself and then model the parts and types of questions to students without having them walk through the whole thing.