The development of Next-Generation MCAS and the review of to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks are supported by numerous units from across ESE, as well as by an oversight committee of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). In addition, ESE is forming project advisory teams of Massachusetts testing experts, educators, parents, and students who will join the workgroups managed by the Project Steering Committee. These teams will provide feedback on test development and the changes to the state standards.
This is an internal workgroup to coordinate the various ESE, Department of Higher Education, and Executive Office of Education units involved in the project. It is chaired by the project's co-directors, Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson and Acting Associate Commissioner Michol Stapel.
The Project Communications Workgroup includes key ESE project staff and invited representatives from the major state education associations. The purpose of the committee is to ensure that administrators and teachers are fully informed about the project as it moves through the planning and implementation stages. Committee meetings and related communications activities are coordinated by Jass Stewart.
The Procurement Management Workgroup is providing logistical support for procuring a testing contractor for Next-Generation MCAS. The group is developing the request for proposals and will evaluate the responses. The group consults with the state Operational Services Division to ensure compliance with all public procurement requirements. This group is chaired by Rob O'Donnell.
This workgroup is addressing key issues relating to test administration, including the number and length of testing sessions, whether tests should be timed or untimed, the scheduling of testing windows, options for scoring and the dissemination of results, the content of score reports, and schedules for phasing in computer-based testing. This group is chaired by Michol Stapel.
High School Testing
This workgroup is addressing policy issues related to the English language arts, mathematics, and science tests to be administered in grades 9-12. These include the specific tests to be offered, the sequence of tests required for the updated Competency Determination that will begin with the class of 2020, and the schedule for transitioning to the new high school assessment. This group is chaired by Jass Stewart.
English Language Arts and Mathematics Curriculum Standards Review Panels
The Board has directed ESE to consult with K-12 educators, curriculum specialists, and others to identify possible refinements to the Massachusetts ELA and Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks based on lessons learned during implementation since 2011. Panelists will be asked to review that input to recommend any needed refinements and identify implications for Next-Generation MCAS. Susan Wheltle is coordinating this process.
The Standard Setting Policy Committee
This workgroup is comprised of educators and administrators from K–12 and higher education, policymakers, and other stakeholders, is charged with making recommendations to the Commissioner and the Board regarding the achievement levels for the next-generation MCAS tests. The 14-member committee is considering such issues as what the achievement levels should be called, what they will signify, and how many there should be. The committee’s recommendations will be considered and discussed by the Commissioner and the Board over the coming year.
This workgroup will address accessibility features, test administration considerations, and accommodations, particularly as they relate to students with disabilities and English language learners. The group will review current policies for both MCAS and PARCC and make recommendations for Next-Generation MCAS. This group is chaired by Dan Wiener.
Digital Learning Advisory Council
The DLAC is an existing BESE advisory council established by statute. The DLAC has been asked to monitor districts' progress toward technological readiness for computer-based testing and to identify ways in which the state can assist in those efforts. The council's meetings are open to the public and are posted on the DLAC's webpage. Ken Klau coordinates the DLAC's activities.
Test Content Review Panels
Panels of classroom educators and curriculum specialists will be convened to assist ESE in assembling test forms and reviewing test items for grade appropriateness and alignment to the curriculum frameworks. There will be separate panels for each grade and subject area. These panels are expected to begin work in late 2016, after the selection of a testing contractor. Michol Stapel is coordinating this process.
MCAS Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)
The MCAS TAC is an existing group of outside assessment experts who continually review the MCAS test design to ensure that the results are valid. The design of Next-Generation MCAS will be subject to the same level of scrutiny by the TAC. Michol Stapel chairs the TAC.
School and District Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council
The AAAC is an existing BESE advisory council established by statute (G.L. c.15, s.1G). The AAAC will be asked to review and advise on the transition to Next-Generation MCAS as it relates to the state's school and district accountability system. The council's meetings are open to the public and are posted on the AAAC's webpage. Matt Pakos is the liaison between the Next-Generation MCAS project staff and the AAAC.
History and Social Science
Following the recommendations of the recently convened Working Group on Civic Learning and Engagement, the BESE has directed ESE to update the 2003 Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework and to add a history and social science component to MCAS. A proposed timetable for these activities will be presented to the BESE this winter. The history and social science tests will not be included in the initial Next-Generation MCAS roll-out in spring 2017 but will follow the updating of the framework. A working group will be established at a later date to review and evaluate options for these tests. Dave Buchanan will be coordinating the framework review and update process.
Massachusetts will continue to be a member of the multi-state PARCC consortium in order to have continued access to test items developed by the consortium and to allow for the possibility of cross-state comparisons of student performance. Bill Bell is coordinating staff support to the Commissioner on matters relating to consortium governance.
The Department has reached out to the following associations and groups to solicit participation in the Next-Generation MCAS workgroups: