The apparent answer is a resounding YES.

We’ve had numerous readers contact us to share what they have discovered while looking at the publicly available PARCC practice reading tests, and the information is appalling.  Using an online tool — — we followed-up on readers’ tips and have independently analyzed the reading levels of every single passage on all of the PARCC practice reading tests.  Our analysis reveals that the majority of the passages are above the grade level for which the test is designed.  With the actual PARCC assessments hidden from public view, this analysis is all that can be performed objectively and we must assume that these tests are an accurate representation of the those that students will be taking that will determine their “ability” and be used to assign grades to Ohio’s teachers, schools, and districts.

Each grade level (3-8) has two practice tests available.  The first is the Performance-Based Assessment (PBA) that is to be given in February, and an End Of Year (EOY) test that is given in April.  The results you’ll see are reported by a number where the whole number represents the grade and the decimal represents the month.  For example, a reading level of 5.4 means that the reading selection is appropriate for the fifth grade, fourth month (i.e., approximately December of Grade 5).

It’s one thing to provide enough “stretch” on the assessments to allow advanced students to demonstrate higher ability, but when more than half of the test questions are based on these higher-level passages, even the “average” student is likely going to obtain a result that is not reflective of his/her true knowledge or ability (specifically see EOY assessments for grades 4-7).

The results for all of the practice test passages are below (Title of Passage, followed by reading-level analyses).

3rd Grade PBA:

3rd PBA 1 Johnny Chuck

3rd PBA 2 Me First

3rd PBA 3 A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience


3rd Grade EOY:

3rd EOY 1 Pordy’s Prickly Problem

3rd EOY 2 Astronauts


4th Grade PBA:

4th PBA 1 Just Lilke Home

4th PBA 2 Life Doesn't Frighten Me

4th PBA 3 The Wild Horses of Assateague Island

4th PBA 4 Wild Ponies of Chincoteague

4th PBA 5 In Thunder and Rain, Chincoteague Ponies Make Annual Swim

4th PBA 6 Those Wacky Shoes


4th grade EOY:

4th EOY 1 The Elephant and the Crocodile

4th EOY 2 The Peanut Man5th Grade PBA:

5th PBA 1 Ida B

5th PBA 2 Moon Over Manifest

5th PBA 3 The Amazing Penguin Rescue

5th PBA 4 The Amazing Penguin Rescue

5th PBA 5 Update on Penguin Rescue Efforts

5th PBA 6 The Growin' of Paul Bunyan

5th Grade EOY:

5th EOY 1 The Youngest Girl in the Fifth

5th EOY 2 Phillis’s Big Test


6th Grade PBA:

6th PBA 1 Boy's Life

6th PBA 2 Emancipation A Life Fable

6th PBA 3 The Stripes Will Survive

6th PBA 4 The Zoos Go Wild

6th PBA 5 Our Beautiful Macaws

6th PBA 6 Magic Elizabeth


6th Grade EOY:

6th EOY 1 A Little Princess

6th EOY 2 The Story of a Bad Boy

6th EOY 3 The Life of a Ship

6th EOY 4 The Alligator’s Super Sense

6th EOY 5 Mapping the Invisible


7th Grade PBA:

7th PBA 1 The Count  of Monte Cristo

7th PBA 2 Blessings

7th PBA 3 Energy Story

7th PBA 4 Short Circuit

7th PBA 5 Conducting Solutions

7th PBA 6 The Fast and the Furriest


7th Grade EOY:

7th EOY 1 The Four Dragons

7th EOY 2 Collecting Rocks

7th EOY 3 Xenolith

7th EOY 4 Five Things About NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover

8th Grade PBA:

8th PBA 1 Confetti Girl

8th PBA 2 Tortilla Sun

8th PBA 3 Elephants Can Lend a Helping Trunk

8th PBA 4 Elephants Know When They Need

8th PBA 5 Elephants Console Each Other

8th PBA 6 The Seven Keys of Balabad


8th Grade EOY:

8th EOY 1 The Golden Apple

8th EOY 2 A Beginner’s Guide to Snowboarding

8th EOY 3 How to get started sandboarding

8th EOY 4 Emerald Ash Borer

8th EOY 5 What is a Robonaut.





  • wetsu

    More of the same.

    The Lima News recently ran an article listing the public schools in town that received a failing grade on the ODE grade card. While we all would prefer that these schools perform better, the article also listed the parochial schools available for voucher use. Chalk one up for Matt Huffman.


    I was looking at the math paper and pencil 6th grade PBA practice test and noticed something interesting. One of the questions has a number line and three algebraic equations and the student is to determine which number line choice represents the equations. The problem is one of the equations is g = – g, and g is supposed to be 0. Zero is neither positive or negative, as it is the dividing line between positive and negative. How can there be a – 0?

  • Red Rover

    The questions on the passages are not good either. On one of the practices my student had to write out five or six steps or facts in order about a process that is described over 6+ paragraphs. Picking out key information is an important skill, but testing it this way is very subjective.

    Another question asked where a passage might appear in an index. The answer was that it should be under “tattoo” – I suppose because tattoos were shown in the picture and briefly discussed in the first paragraph. However the rest of the passage talked about all kinds of things, including one of the other possible answers.

    The test is just junk, pure and simple. It’s a money maker for Pearson, which appears to be run more by financial and business types than educators.

  • AuthenticLearningMatters

    Please edit the agreement error in your report: “average STUDENT” = singular; “result that is not reflective of THEIR true knowledge” = plural pronoun. This, by the way, is in the THIRD grade Language strand for English Language Arts in the Common Core State Standards. 😉 😉

    Please note: LEXILE MEASURES do not tell the whole story with reading levels. As an educator who has served on state assessment committees, I can tell you that PARCC has an extensive review process (in which educators determine if a passage is grade level appropriate and free of bias or sensitivity issues). While Pearson is responsible for creating the finished product, there are many steps along the way that involve professional educators. Shouldn’t their expertise should be valued?

  • AuthenticLearningMatters

    Here are the passage selection guidelines from PARCC. Perhaps you should read this document.

  • gregmild

    Thank you for assuming that I hadn’t read that information already.

    I always find it interesting when people aren’t willing to post their real name in these type of “expert” comments, too, so that their own personal bias is unable to be verified.

    Your link does give me an idea for a future post about how Pearson has created a “new” reading analysis method — the Reading Maturity Metric — to use to align the reading passages to the CCSS and the new Pearson-created assessments. That’s a fantastic and purely objective idea.

    I also particularly like page 14 of the linked document where it states “PUT IN LINK TO BIAS AND SENSITIVITY GUIDELINES”. I wonder when those guidelines will actually be linked by Pearson?

  • Natalie

    They are a legend in their own mind.

  • Natalie

    Agreed. Just because Pearson says it employs a lot of educators doesn’t mean the process is legit. Many of my colleagues have served on state assessment committees and tell a different story.

  • Think.

    Please edit the error in your response: “Shouldn’t their expertise should be valued?” 😉 😉

  • shannon wood

    I have a question…why are IEP students being made to take these tests? My son has comprehension issues, and these tests just really brought him down. He feels stupid and lost. He tries really hard. I just don’t know what the purpose of putting him through this serves.

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