New Jersey Demystifies PARCC Assessments

Here's New Jersey Asst. State Education Commissioner Bari Erlichson:
By making these test questions public, teachers can see how their students' learning is being assessed and ultimately understand and reflect on their own classroom instruction.
Yes, they can, as well as teachers and students themselves. Today both the Star-Ledger and NJ Spotlight feature articles on “an unprecedented look inside its state exams" because everyone now has access to over 800 PARCC questions and answers from last spring's assessments.

From the Star-Ledger:
[T]he released questions do provide more insight into the way PARCC questions were structured — a criticism from some parents before the tests — and what type of questions students faced, said Rose Acerra, president-elect of the New Jersey PTA.
Parents should review the questions so they know exactly what their children saw on the test, Acerra said.
"It might not be as bad as you think it is," she said. 
From Spotlight:
[W]hat’s available now may be much more useful to teachers and curriculum coordinators – especially when they are given the results – as PARCC has released not just questions, but also the scoring keys for each test and a sampling of actual student responses.
New Jerseyans typically haven’t had access to this information, but one of N.J.’s conditions to joining the PARCC consortium was swift release of questions and answers. So, for example, one can go to the link for 4th-graders' answers to a question about Dorothy’s qualities  during her trip to Oz– was she curious? adventurous? courageous? caring? – and look at student responses, as well as final scoring on reading and written expression.

One of the long criticisms of N.J.’s annual standardized assessments, whether ASK or HSPA or PARCC, has been a lack of transparency and an attendant lack of credibility. This release demystifies the tests and, hopefully, allays some parent and teacher concerns.