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Six Chelmsford Schools Will Take Possible MCAS Replacement Test

Eighteen states worked together to develop the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam.

Some Chelmsford students will be taking a possible MCAS replacement test.
Some Chelmsford students will be taking a possible MCAS replacement test.
Written by Les Masterson

Chelmsford's South Row Elementary School, Charles D. Harrington Elementary School, Byam Elementary School, Parker Middle School, McCarthy Middle School and Chelmsford High School will take the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests as part of a test group this spring.

State education officials are testing whether to replace the MCAS test with the PARCC. Massachusetts is one of 18 states that has been working to develop PARCC. More than 1.35 million students from 14 states will take PARCC field tests in English language arts or mathematics this spring.

About 81,000 Massachusetts students (approximately 8% of the state’s total public school enrollment) will take a PARCC field test.

South Row and Chelmsford High School students will take the paper PARCC exam, while the other four schools will take the online test.

The state Department of Education and Secondary Education said the PARCC “has the potential to deliver clearer signals to schools, colleges, employers, and parents about what students know and can do and whether they are on the pathway to success after high school.”

Education officials will have a two-year “try out” to determine whether the PARCC “can better serve the Commonwealth's goal of ensuring that all students have the academic preparation necessary to successfully pursue higher education, careers, and citizenship” than the MCAS.

The state has been working with participating schools since September to choose a representative sample of students from a few classes at each school to take the field test. The students who take the field test will not receive a score or grade.

"The academic learning standards we adopted in 2010 are strong, comprehensive, and academically demanding, and we need an equally strong assessment aligned to those standards," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester, who is chair of the PARCC Governing Board. "PARCC promises to provide more accurate measures of the skills that are keys to success after high school. The two-year pilot of PARCC will allow us to build the best test we can and better evaluate whether PARCC could replace our current testing program."

Though Massachusetts students lead the nation in academy performance, state education officials said “challenges remain to ensures that all students are successful.”

“Nearly 40 percent of public high school students in Massachusetts who enroll in one of the states' public higher education campuses are placed in one or more non-credit bearing, remedial courses. In 2010, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to adopt new learning standards that capitalized on feedback from employers and higher education about where our students were often lacking in terms of their literacy and mathematical skills,” according to the state Department of Education and Secondary Education.

State education officials said the MCAS, which started in 1998, has not been upgraded and “was never designed to access college and career readiness.”

The PARCC, on the other hand, is “aligned to the Commonwealth’s new learning standards, will deliver innovative technology-based items and performance-based tasks to better measure students' abilities to think critically and apply what they know. PARCC will assess writing at all tested grades (3-11), rather than just in grades 4, 7, and 10, which is the case for MCAS. PARCC will produce more timely results for school districts to assist educators in planning and tailoring instruction for students in the coming school year,” according to the state.

After this year’s field test, school districts will have the option of administering the PARCC or MCAS to students in grades 3-11 in 2014-15. Grade 10 students will still need to pass the MCAS test in English language arts and mathematics to receive a high school diploma through the Class of 2018.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to vote in fall 2015 whether to replace the MCAS with PARCC in England language arts and mathematics.
Shanon Dahlstrom February 14, 2014 at 07:13 AM
I have taken a lot of time recently to read about our new Common Core Standards and the PARCC tests. I am horrified to say the least! Does everyone realize where this new education reform is taking us? I can not believe our own Depart of Ed has either been so blind to the truth or is honestly on board with this governement takeover. If you want to hear the real history of where common core and PARCC came from, learn why these standards and tests are harmful to our kids and why all of the things that the Dept of ED and other organizations say are false or deliberaetly misleading then please join groups on facebook like Stop Common Core Massachusetts or MA Parents Interested in Common Core. There are national organizations too like Common Crude that shares the inappropriate and horrifing lessons and homework so many kids are being given. Please spend some time reading and sharing with other parents in the this state what needs to change. Many other states are already writting legislation to get rid of this reform because of the data mining on our kids, inappropriate material, over testing and government control of our state education.
Pat Mullen February 14, 2014 at 03:20 PM
I'm with you Shanon. Education should remain at the local and state level. Big Brother education results in scripted classes with scripted responses required. Teachers are restrained by Common Core and are directed to teach it "word-for-word". Standards drive instruction - not the individual needs of each student that is best determined by the teachers that work with the students every day. Data determines effectiveness - not actual outcomes (we've all had teachers that have been influential to us). Without the data, there is no proof of effectiveness according to Common Core. I’m from the school of teaching CHILDREN, not standards. I’m from the school of student needs, not student data. I’m from the school of thinking and discovery and choice; not canned, watered-down, one-size-fits-all, global curricula dictated from bureaucrats in DC. Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul is full of stories of teachers who made a difference in student’s lives through their care, their courage, and their dedication…not their student’s test scores. Judging the effectiveness of a teacher on only quantifiable data reduces the art of teaching children to a mathematical algorithm can that be performed more effectively by a hologram projected on the Smart board than by an old-fashioned, caring, humanly flawed teacher.
Tyler Jozefowicz February 14, 2014 at 05:56 PM
Shannon Dahlstrom: you state nothing in particular about Common Core in your 19 lines , other than you are " horrified" , ' government control of our state education", and " government takeover", and suggest people join right wing groups. We tried complete local control and the kids , especially in the South fell behind, dropped out , performed poorly and were put off to the side in segregated school systems , both by race and income. So much for local control. the kids of today need to compete globally and have to meet at the very least minimum standards so we're not graduating a bunch of walking illiterates. America is already falling behind. So I wouldn't be " horrified" when public education INSISTS that kids meet standards. that is how the rest of the civilized world educates their children. Couldn't disagree with you more , regardless of whether you have " studied " Common Core. I agree with its objectives , its standards and its methods of testing. It's called accountability
Shanon Dahlstrom February 15, 2014 at 08:44 AM
Tyler, I understand your comments regarding failing school systems but MA was not one of them. Yes we have schools that are not performing well and there are many reasons that contribute to that. I am not sure why you would think that when some schools have problems, “especially in the south”, that it would require the entire nation to change its education structure?? Do you think MA did not have an accountability system? Frankly, we had the best. Did you know that MA has consistently been number one in the country for many years AND when you compare MA on its own with international countries we are in the top? I say to you that local control was alive and doing very well in MA. Common Core is born from progressive think tank groups in DC and completely funded by publishers and corporations looking to make billions off of the education industry. I’m on board with making money, but only when the method and curriculum is proven, tested, and appropriate. Common Core initially said they were “internationally benchmarked” and had to change it to “internationally informed”… they could not produce evidence of it being benchmarked to anything and they don’t describe what “informed” means either. They use lots of great buzz words like “rigorous” to sell everyone that this is great. But there is no evidence. Why would you put an entire nation’s generation of children into an untested education system when there were other states doing exceptionally well you could have looked at? Would a medical company let an untested drug onto the market? Why would we pay for that? I don’t believe we need a nation of robots doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time. Kids are not commodities and each and every one of them has different challenges and learning abilities. If you think anyone who is opposed to common core does not want “accountability” and “standards” you couldn’t be more misinformed. Every parent wants the best for their children. And MA had the highest level of standards and accountability. Now, who knows? We don’t because there was no research or evidence to prove it. There is evidence and research that supports standardized testing is not an indicator of future success… so the logical conclusion is to certainly increase the testing! Various Asian countries, which are testing gurus, are actually testing less now to be like the US. They want to develop thinkers and creators, not awesome test takers because the US has proven that excessive testing doesn’t work. So again, more testing for everyone!! This testing only provides data to the US DOE to analyze and sell to anyone that can request it correctly. And I, as a parent, have no ability to refuse this intrusion of privacy on my child because of the changes to FERPA. How convenient. This will fix it all! What was wrong with MA standards and the MCAS that couldn’t have been handled by MA? Common Core is nothing more than No Child Left Behind on data steroids. And we all know what a rousing success NCLB has been! The US government has broken several federal laws by coercing states into implementing common core, new testing and data mining. They are strictly forbidden from setting state education policy, but they are doing just that with Race to the Top funding. Again, if this is such a great system for everyone where is the proof!? Maybe I speak for myself but I do not want to wait for an entire generation of kids to go through school as guinea pigs to determine, in the end, they are worse off than before. I cannot sum up all of my arguments against this in one comment area. I wish you and your kids luck with these new objectives, standards, methods of testing and accountability. I am going to be insisting on transparency, research and proof before my child’s education is ruined… or not. I am not a gambler.
Tyler Jozefowicz February 15, 2014 at 09:52 AM
Because we need standards. Would you prefer a pilot program first? You seem to be concerned just about MA and your kids. We have a whole country to run and compete internationally.
Anna Bucciarelli February 17, 2014 at 08:48 AM
First concern is for the place you live ... get that straight, then work nationally. Big things always start small and locally. I'm with you Shannon, all the way.
Vincent DiRico February 17, 2014 at 12:59 PM
TJ, taking another walloping for the team. ---> States should be incubators of ideas, other states should LOOK / LEARN and choose a proven system they think fits them. Follow the best (if appropriate), otherwise get run over. ---> Now that is a topic TJ knows about (run over in every patch article I have ever read). Priceless!
Randy Winslow February 17, 2014 at 05:31 PM
Tyler, MA does have standards, the highest in the nation. Are you saying MA should dumb down its standards to accommodate other states?
Tyler Jozefowicz February 18, 2014 at 11:36 AM
No ,Randy. the country should have minimum national standards below which states should not fall, like the rest of the world, to compete globally, as a requisite for HS graduation. MA and any other state can have higher and maintain standards. the problem is that some states have no or low standards that are a joke.
Vincent DiRico February 18, 2014 at 12:46 PM
"some states have no or low standards that are a joke" ---> examples would be? also this is just like messiah-care, one size fits all, proven no where, ... silly actually! ---> and make no mistake about it this and messiah-care will DRAG down those who are doing well, ideally the know nothing running the country would go after solutions that LIFT everyone.
Pat Mullen February 18, 2014 at 04:39 PM
It is amazing how one guy can be wrong on almost every issue. Even committed leftists of the likes of the NEA and Gov. Cuomo are running away from Common Crud in NY. Why the stand TJ? If we bring the southerners up to MA speed, you will not have them to ridicule with your elitist arrogance anymore.
Tyler Jozefowicz February 18, 2014 at 05:05 PM
“The GOP largely backs the standards that are rolling out in 45 states…. The mainstream business wing of the Republican Party strongly backs Common Core, arguing that raising standards is vital to creating the next-generation American workforce. But in an echo of the rifts in the GOP nationally, the Tea Party branch has been critical of the new standards.”
Vincent DiRico February 18, 2014 at 05:25 PM
gibberish!
Tyler Jozefowicz February 18, 2014 at 06:58 PM
ya ,speaking of education standards I thought it might be too deep for you to comprehend.
Vincent DiRico February 18, 2014 at 07:19 PM
bah ha ha ha #roadkill
Randy Winslow February 18, 2014 at 07:29 PM
So you want all states to have the same curriculum then, Tyler? That means you want educators to teach the same materials to all students. How, will that keep with the leftist mantra of everyone being special? What about accepting everyone for who they are? Those who excel in academics and those who don't?

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