Chicago Public Schools • 125 S. Clark St. • Chicago, IL 60603
Common Core State Standards Aligned Assessment
Frequently Asked Questions
In the 2011-12 school year, Chicago Public Schools will be launching a multi-year initiative aimed at
establishing a coherent curriculum and assessment system based on the Common Core State Standards
In order to better aid teachers and teacher teams in making decisions about instruction and planning,
an assessment aligned to the Common Core Standards will be delivered to all 2nd-8th graders this
year(with testing for 2nd grade optional in the first semester). This assessment will provide a yardstick
to help teachers gauge proficiency towards CCSS over time, for a subset of reading and math standards.
Below are some frequently asked questions about the CCSS assessments:
1. Will this assessment be used for accountability purposes?
a. No. This assessment will not be a part of any accountability framework (either the
Performance Policy or a School Scorecard) and will not be used for decisions on school or
teacher performance by principals, Network staff or Central Office. This assessment is
intended purely for instructional purposes, to provide educators with an indicator of
student mastery of the Common Core State Standards. It is meant to help teachers better
understand the gaps in student learning for a subset of foundational standards in literacy
and math. This information should be used for planning for instruction this year and long
term planning for next.
2. Why are we being asked to administer a common assessment across the district?
a. A common assessment across the district will provide a foundation for a larger district-wide
conversation about the CCSS in terms of instructional planning. It allows us a snapshot of
how students perform on CCSS aligned items which can then be used to support decisions
made about future instruction.
3. How will this help our school? Network? District?
a. In order to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to receive an education that
prepares them for college and career, it is essential to have common standards and
expectations, a common instructional language, and assessments that are aligned to these.
This common assessment will help build familiarity with Common Core standards, and will
help provide the foundation for a larger district-wide discussion about CCSS-based
instructional planning and the level at which our students perform relative to common
b. At the school level, aligning assessments creates a vehicle for conversation and
collaboration around common instructional practice and level of student mastery toward
the CCSS. In the Networks, aligned assessments give the opportunity for common language
and professional development. For both the District and Network, these assessments will
allow us to begin tailoring professional learning on curriculum content, planning and
4. Why at this point in the school year? Will we be expected to do different things in preparation for
the Q1 assessment compared to Q2-Q4 assessments?
a. The objective of this year’s assessment is not to dictate curriculum, and will be largely
curriculum agnostic. Each quarterly assessment will focus on a subset of key foundational
standards that will repeat over the course of the year. It is the goal of the assessments to
help teachers gauge their students’ mastery on these key or essential end of the year
standards. Starting with the process in Quarter 1 will allow for teachers and schools to
develop an early understanding of the gaps in student knowledge.
5. What standards will be assessed? What assessment methods will be used (multiple choice,
a. In each quarter, Reading/Language Arts CCSS quarterlies will be composed of roughly 20-30
multiple choice questions, as well as constructed response questions. The primary focus of
the assessment every quarter will be on the first 3 anchor standards in reading (Key Ideas
and Details). The spiraling of these standards every quarter will allow for a better
understanding of mastery over time. In addition, assessments in quarters 2 and 4 will
include an essay-based writing component.
b. Quarterly assessments in math will focus on the critical areas of instructional focus laid out
in the CCSS and reinforced in the PARCC’s assessment frameworks. The final quarter will
consist of a comprehensive assessment involving all standards. The format will be 20-25
multiple choice, 2-4 short response, 1-2 constructed response. The 8th grade math
assessment in Quarter 4 will be optional for students taking the Algebra exit exam.
c. Each assessment will be designed to be completed in no more than 1 class period, but can
be paused and restarted at any time.
6. When will networks/schools be able to see the assessment guide (what standards will be assessed
by subject/quarter, how many items per standard)?
a. Assessment guides will be shared by the beginning of October.
7. How will the assessments be administered? (paper or online)
a. The CCSS quarterlies will be administered chiefly online via CIM. Paper and pencil
accommodations will also be made available to students with disabilities. Network staff will
work with schools to determine the scheduling and logistics of printing, delivering, receiving and
scanning paper answer sheets.
8. Who will score the constructed response items?
a. Every teacher who administers these CCSS quarterlies will take part in the constructed
response grading process, which is critical for understanding the assessments themselves,
the Common Core standards, and the performance of students with respect to them.
Schools/Teachers will be provided tools for understanding the rubrics provided.
Understanding the expectations set forth in these items and associated rubrics are a critical
step in better understanding the CCSS.
9. Are all schools required to use this common assessment? If we already have developed our own
CCSS-aligned assessment, can we use that instead?
a. Yes, all schools with students in Grades 3-8 will be required to take the Common Core
quarterlies. A 2nd grade assessment will also be available but will be optional in the first
semester. No, school-developed assessments do not take the place of this requirement,
but may be used at the school’s discretion to provide an additional instructional support.
10. How should this assessment impact our curriculum mapping that has taken place?
a. Please proceed with your existing instructional planning and curriculum mapping
processes. These assessments are intended to provide you with information that may help
supplement your existing planning process, and to provide insight into and facilitate
discussion about how curriculum mapping may change in future academic years.
11. Are High School assessments being developed?
a. Yes, high school assessments aligned to College Readiness Standards are currently being
developed jointly by the High School Chiefs of Schools and the Department of Assessment.
We will shortly be kicking off a process to solicit the input of principals, educators and
Chiefs of Schools in the design of and implementation plan for these assessments—details
will follow in the weekly CEDO newsletter and other communications.
b. In the meantime, we are working closely with ACT in an effort to deliver our beginning-of-
year 9th grade EXPLORE and 10th grade PLAN assessment results sooner than in past years,
with the hope of making the data emerging from them still fresh, instructionally relevant,
and useful from a formative perspective.
12. Do ELL/SPED students need to take these assessments?
a. Yes, but with the same guidance as set forth for students taking the Scantron assessment.
Students with disabilities who take ISAT should be provided the accommodations called for
in their IEPs. ELL students at or above a 3.5 composite on ACCESS should take the
assessment. Students who score below this should take it at the teacher’s discretion. The
results of assessments given in English to ELLs below this level of English language mastery
will not necessarily reflect their content knowledge due to limited English language
proficiency and should be analyzed with caution.
Notes on Constructed Response Items:
As part of the Quarterly Formative Assessments teachers will administer a Constructed Response to all 2nd
through 8th grade students (2nd is optional in the first semester). The Constructed Response is a prompt
developed based on the Common Core State Standards and a grade specific text. In math, this item
provides a prompt with related information, and asks students to explain and support their steps for
arriving at a correct answer. This part of the assessment is to be given soon after the students take the
multiple choice portion. Teachers should use their best judgment as to when and how long the students
will have to complete the Constructed Response.
The Constructed Response assessments are meant solely to inform instruction and identify students’
strengths and needs in reading comprehension and mathematical problem solving. The information
provided by student responses can provide critical information for planning and adjustments to
instructional practice. In addition, the prompts posed allow students an opportunity to show mastery in
an authentic assessment.
To aid in understanding student reasoning and thinking, teachers should observe students as they read
and write (ie. student behaviors, engagement, etc.) and analyze student work as soon after
administration as possible.