Taking our first steps with the EBSR

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SWBAT demonstrate their understanding of text by successfully addressing questions in one of PARCC's chosen formats, the Evidence Based Selected Response (EBSR).

Big Idea

Students and teachers need experience with assessments in order to get valid results.

Presenting the Assessment

10 minutes


The EBSR (Evidence Based Selected Response) is a question type that PARCC is going to be using on our EOY test, according to sources at the district level.  This is a completely new question type, requiring training for both teachers -- as we write the questions -- and our students -- as they attempt to answer them.

In an EBSR (and, of course, this is my interpretation of my county's presentation of the format), teachers develop two-part questions based on texts to which the students have access during the assessment.

In Part A, the student is faced with an identification item, such as I used today: Choose one word to describe the school environment that Alexie experienced, as a child, on the reservation.  The students were given five options, and none of the options are total throwaways.  There is, in my example, one "right" answer. (I have seen EBSR's with more than one defensible answer.  However, since I was writing this question type for the first time, I decided not to muddy the waters for myself.)

In the Part B, the students select from a list of quotations from the text to support their choice in the first section.  Again, the construction of these options is such that the students have to reflect and consult the text to really derive meanings and interpretations that are consistent with the text.

It is my understanding that PARCC will not have a Part C, but I decided to add it so that the students can have the opportunity to explain their thinking.

Explaining the EBSR to the students:

Before I let the students write on the assessment, I put a copy of it on the overhead camera and went through it, line by line.  I told them to select one answer for Part A, but they could have several pieces of support for Part B.  I also told them that, if they pick the wrong answer in Part A, then Part B would be wrong.  However, I also encouraged them to write something in Part C so they could receive some points for recording their thinking.

Students had annotated their copies of "Superman and Me" in class and for homework, so I reminded them to use them.  I also discouraged them from looking around at other people's papers, because there could be some different approaches to answering the question.

Work Session: Students Take the Assessment

30 minutes

Students took the assessment.  The time to complete it ranged from 15 to 30 minutes.  

While they were taking it, I circulated and observed.  Some students immediately marked the correct answer and went on to puzzle over the support.  Some students were clearly using process of elimination, and I watched them strike the letters once they reviewed the close reading.  A few students appeared completely lost.  Those students really didn't connect the assessment to the marked up close reading that they had right in front of them. (More about this in the reflection.)

Long story short -- it took about 40 minutes total to administer and collect this assessment. And, really, it's just three questions.

Here are some student assessment examples:

Sample #1

Sample #2

Sample #3

Sample #4