Maryland education leaders voted this past week to raise the bar for rising ninth- and 10th-graders by requiring them to pass the new PARCC assessments to graduate from high school. The PARCC tests, which are tied to the Common Core curriculum, will replace the current High School Assessments and are considered to be harder. Beginning this school year, rising ninth- and 10th-graders will need to pass English and Algebra I tests in order to graduate.

Here's some sample English and math questions. If you are brave enough to try the entire test you will find it online here.

**English, grade 10 question:**

TO A FRIEND WHOSE WORK HAS COME TO TRIUMPH

By Anne Sexton

Consider Icarus, pasting those sticky wings on,

testing that strange little tug at his shoulder blade,

and think of that first flawless moment over the lawn

of the labyrinth. Think of the difference it made!

5 There below are the trees, as awkward as camels;

and here are the shocked starlings pumping past

and think of innocent Icarus who is doing quite well:

larger than a sail, over the fog and the blast

of the plushy ocean, he goes. Admire his wings!

10 Feel the fire at his neck and see how casually

he glances up and is caught, wondrously tunneling

into that hot eye. Who cares that he fell back to the sea?

See him acclaiming the sun and come plunging down

while his sensible daddy goes straight into town.

Part A:

In line 11 of Sexton’s poem, what does the use of the idea of **tunneling** reveal about Icarus at this point in the poem?

A. He is engaging in an intensely concentrated action.

B. He is doomed to become the victim of an accident.

C. He is trying to visualize an impossible goal.

D. He is forced to begin a puzzling quest.

Part B:

Which words from Sexton’s poem best help the reader understand the meaning of **tunneling**?

A. “Admire his wings!” (line 9)

B. “Feel the fire at his neck . . .” (line 10)

C. “he glances up and is caught, . . .” (line 11)

D. “Who cares that he fell back . . .” (line 12)

The correct answers are A. for Part A and C. for Part B.

**Algebra I sample questions:**

1) The cost to manufacture x pairs of sunglasses can be represented by a function C(x). Select from the drop down menus to correctly complete the statement about function C.

If C(4) = 398 then (choose one of the following) 0,1,4, 99.50 or 398

pairs of sunglasses cost (choose one of the following) $4.00, 398.00 or 1592.00.

The correct answer is 4 for the first one and $398 for the second.

Below is an additional Algebra I item that is short but requires more conceptual knowledge from the student.

2) In the equations listed, *a, b, c*, and *d* are real numbers. Which of the equations could have solutions that are nonreal?

Select **all** that apply.

A. ax^2 = b

B. ax^2 + bx = 0

C. ax^2 + bx + c = 0

D. (ax + b) (cx + d) = 0

E. a(bx + c)^2 = d

The correct answer is A, C and E