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University of Connecticut Neag School of Education ORCA

Common Core Standards and The ORCA Project

What is the ORCA (Online Reading Comprehension Assessment) Project?

The ORCA project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is designed to develop, test, and refine a set of three assessments formats for measuring online reading comprehension. Each ORCA is an authentic, problem-based scenario situated in a digital environment designed to engage middle school students in a series of online disciplinary information requests while capturing performance data about how students use the Internet to locate, critically evaluate, synthesize, and communicate information. For more information, visit www.orca.uconn.edu.

What can participation in the ORCA Project offer your school?

  • Exposure to performance-based, constructed response items, and class-based data from measures of processes similar to Common Core State Standards expectations three years prior to release of formal assessments from the two consortiums.
  • A vision of what authentic assessment and feedback might look like for schools seeking to integrate technology into standards-based curriculum practices
  • The opportunity to consider how real-time performance data from inquiry-based online reading scenarios can inform new elements of classroom instruction

Key Features of ORCA Aligned with Common Core Standards

Rigor/Relevance Framework. Adapted from http://www.leadered.com/rrr.html

Image adapted from http://www.leadered.com/rrr.html

  • Problem-based scenarios require application of higher level reading and writing processes to Internet reading contexts
  • Authentic, interdisciplinary tasks integrate science, reading, and writing
  • Content focused on human biology, a topic connected to most middle school curricula
  • Scenario topics relevant to today’s adolescents (e.g., heart healthy snacks; decorative contact lenses; safe volume levels of Ipods)
  • Reflects key processes in Common Core State Standards for reading, writing, and literacy in science (see table below)
  • The CCSS movement aligns with the higher order thinking and doing skills reflected in the “Quad D” area of the rigor/relevance framework developed by the International Center for Leadership in Education (2011). The ORCA project enables 7th- graders and their teachers to move toward “Quad D” learning experiences with application and assimilation activities from which assessment data can be used to inform classroom instructional decisions with regards to reading and the integration of technology.
ORCA Locate Evaluate Synthesize Communicate
Common Core State Standards Reading to Locate Reading to Evaluate Reading to Synthesize Reading and Writing to Communicate
CCSS Reading Standards for Informational Text — Grade 7
Key Ideas and Details   1: Cite implicit & explicit textual evidence as support 2: Determine two or more central ideas and summarize 2: Determine two or more central ideas and summarize
Craft and Structure 4. Determine connotative meaning of words 4: Analyze impact of word choice on tone 4: Determine technical meaning of words  
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas 8. Assess if evidence is relevant and sound 9: Analyze how authors shape claims 8. Trace argument and assess whether reasoning is sound  
Range of Reading and Text Complexity 10: Comprehend across complex texts 10: Comprehend across complex texts 10: Comprehend across complex texts  
CCSS Reading Standards for Literacy in Science — Grade 7
Key Ideas and Details 3: Follow multi-step procedures to carry out tasks 2: Determine central idea and summarize 2: Determine central idea and summarize  
Craft and Structure   6: Analyze author’s purpose 4. Determine meaning of words in science  
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas   8: Distinguish fact, reasoned judgment and speculation 8: Distinguish fact, reasoned judgment and speculation  
Range of Reading and Text Complexity   10. Comprehend complex science texts 10. Comprehend complex science texts  
CCSS Writing Standards — Grade 7
Text Types and Purposes 2. Write to convey relevant information 1: Write arguments with clear reasons and evidence 1: Write arguments with clear reasons and evidence 2: Write to examine topic & convey relevant ideas
Production and Distribution of Writing 6: Use Internet to publish writing and cite sources 6: Use Internet to publish writing and cite sources 6: Use Internet to publish writing and cite sources 4: Produce clear writing appropriate to audience
6: Use Internet to publish writing and cite sources
Research To Build and Present Knowledge 7: Conduct short research to answer question
8: Gather evidence using search terms effectively
9: Draw evidence to support analysis and research (assess argument and reasonableness of claims) 9: Draw evidence to support analysis and research (assess argument and reasonableness of claims) 8: Gather evidence from multiple digital texts
9: Draw evidence to support analysis and research
Range of Writing 10: Write for a disciplinary task in one sitting 10: Write for a disciplinary task in one sitting 10: Write for a disciplinary task in one sitting 10: Write for a disciplinary task in one sitting