Southborough Wicked Local recently ran a story on the standardized testing choices made by area schools. According to the article, approximately 60% of Massachusetts public schools have chosen to switch some grades from MCAS testing to the new pilot test – PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).
Both tests are being offered, as the board of education seeks to compare results next year. In fall 2015, the board will decide whether or not to permanently replace the MCAS with PARCC as of 2016. SWL reports:
In the hopes of getting on board early with what could become the state’s next standardized test, a dozen school districts in MetroWest and the Milford area last month signed up to administer the PARCC exam next year. . .
Most will be giving the test in third through eighth grade; a few will have their ninth- or eleventh-graders take it. . .
eight districts in the region told the state they will continue with the MCAS in 2015 (read more)
I checked in with Superintendent Christine Johnson to see what decision our district made, and why.
This June, the Combined School Committee voted to continue to administer the MCAS test at all grades. The decision was based on Johnson’s recommendation. In support, she provided the committee with an update on the spring PARCC pilot experience. She followed it with her recommendation and detailed reasoning.
According to Johnson’s documents, the district was one of a minority that was randomly selected to participate in the PARCC pilot this spring:
313 students from across our District representing a random sampling of students in grades 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 11 participated
Johnson believes the state still has work to do in improving the test before (or if) it is to become the mandated standard.
The administration met with students to get their reactions to the test (both online and paper versions). Their data differed from the state’s findings:
A higher percentage of our students reported that the questions were unclear, the directions confusing, and the experience of taking the test online was a good one but that many technical issues regarding access and input arose during the testing.
Meanwhile, she’s not concerned about other districts getting a leg up going forward. She reasoned that the recent experience already provided information to assist the schools in “our curriculum alignment and teaching and learning strategies”.