SWL: Schools stick with MCAS; Algonquin short on hours, drops “open campus” exam periods

by beth on December 18, 2015

Southborough Wicked Local covered this week’s Combined and Regional School Committee meetings this week.

The fist bit of news is no surprise. But it’s still worth sharing.

According to Southborough Wicked Local, Southborough public schools and Algonquin rejected an option to switch to PARCC testing for the spring:

School Committee members voted Wednesday not to adopt an alternative standardized test in spring 2016, accepting a recommendation from the superintendent to continue using the MCAS exam.

Superintendent Christine Johnson argued a transition to the newer PARCC test next year could be confusing as the state continues to develop a hybrid exam that will be rolled out in the future, replacing both assessments.

Schools that administered the MCAS test in 2015 must choose by Friday whether to continue using MCAS in spring 2016 or to experiment with the PARCC – or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers – test, which is being piloted in many communities.

The ability to stick with MCAS was only an option for schools that didn’t switch last year.

For more details, read the full article here.

The second article shares that Algonquin Regional High School found itself short of the 990 instructional hours required for the year. As a result, it will be dropping the “open campus” format for mid-terms and finals.

This comes just one year after a new school-wide mid-term policy adopted the format to replicate its a successful policy for finals. The format was partly intended to reduce stress for students. But it appears to have contributed to headaches for administrators who learned that they were 27 instructional hours short: 

Administrators at Algonquin Regional High School are tweaking the schedule for the remainder of the year after discovering the school did not plan enough instructional time to meet state requirements.

State regulations require every secondary school student to be scheduled for a minimum of 990 hours per year of “structured learning time,” a category that includes classroom time, independent study and school-to-work programs.

At a school committee meeting Wednesday night, Superintendent Christine Johnson announced Algonquin may have “slightly below” the necessary 990 hours in its schedule this school year.

To remedy the problem, Principal Tom Mead said the school is returning to a full-day schedule during mid-terms at the end of January and finals in the spring.

Click here for the full article.

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