District among the minority choosing MCAS over PARCC testing for next year

Above: Southborough grades 3-8 and Algonquin will continue to offer MCAS this year rather than switching some grades to the PARCC test still in pilot phase. (Photos of Woodward and Neary from school websites; photos of Trottier and Algonquin by Susan Fitzgerald)

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”.

Click on the links for more information on last spring’s PARCC pilot and the recommendation to stick with MCAS this year.

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9 years ago

Actually Southborough has joined the 66% of Massachusetts school districts who have rejected PARCC or are still undecided. Recent evidence shows that PARCC is imploding nationally and locally.

9 years ago

Of the 408 School Districts in Massachusetts, 66% have either rejected PARCC or have not yet committed to using PARCC in the upcoming school year while only 41% have said they will use the PARCC test.

BREAKDOWN – 107 Chose MCAS, 164 Undecided, 137 Chose PARCC

By the way, the DESE erroneously counted Charter Schools as separate school districts in order to inflate their numbers and mislead the public.

Dan Frank
9 years ago

According to a report in the Boston Globe it is true that approximately 43% have chosen the PARCC for grades 3 – 8. About 30% of chosen the MCAS, and 26% are undecided. When you state the figures that way it appears some school districts are jumping in feet first, and others will be cautious. It seems too early to say which test will eventually be adopted. These figures come from an article dated July 6:

9 years ago

Here’s why it is clear that PARCC is imploding and is unlikely to be the “test of choice.”

In 2010 the U.S. Department of Education awarded $330 million in Race to the Top grants to develop assessments aligned to the Standards:
 $186 million to Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
 $176 million to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)

PARCC originally was comprised of 21 States plus the District of Columbia and U.S. Virgin Islands and SBAC was comprised of 25 States

As of July 17, 2014, 10 States have publicly declared their withdrawal from PARCC
 Several of the remaining states have legislation pending to either delay the implementation of PARCC or withdraw altogether
 SBAC has lost two states
 Once considered the strongest of the two testing conglomerates, PARCC is currently the weakest. PARCC insists its membership is 15 states. The accurate number, however, is 13, according to public, written statements from state leaders.

Under the terms of the Race to the Top Grant PARCC and SBAC must keep at least 15 states involved or risk losing the federal monies that feed their organizations

Reasons States have given for dropping PARCC
 Bidding Issues
 Conflict of Interest (perceived or real)
 Excessive and/or Unknown Cost of implementation
 Questions of Constitutionality (Federalization vs State’s Right)

The recent rash of bad news for PARCC forced them to post a full page story on their website last week entitled “PARCC is Alive and Well” which is a clear indication that they are in full damage control mode.

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