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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

FAQs on the Decision to Administer PARCC or MCAS for 2015

Dear Superintendents:

This email is to share with you answers to frequently asked questions that may help you in your decision-making for registering your district's spring 2015 assessment decision.

Q. What is the timeline for decision-making, and what choice can I register at each stage?
A.
See the decisions that are possible during the different periods in the table below:

Early Decision Period
(Ends June 30 at 12:00 p.m.)
Decision Period, Pending Availability of Funding
(Ends October 1 at 12:00 p.m.)
  • Whether to administer MCAS or PARCC for grades 3–8 (The choice will be guaranteed.)
  • Whether or not to administer PARCC tests for grades 9 and 11, if funding is available
  • Whether to administer computer-based or paper-based tests, if PARCC is chosen
  • Whether to administer MCAS or PARCC for grades 3–8, if a decision was not registered by June 30
  • Whether or not to administer PARCC tests for grades 9 and 11, if funding is available
  • Whether to administer computer-based or paper-based tests, if PARCC is chosen

Q. What happens if my district does not register its decision by October 1?
A.
The Department will assign your district to take MCAS.

Q. My district is planning to register its decision by the early decision deadline of June 30. Can this decision be changed between June 30 and October 1?
A.
Decisions made by June 30 are binding. Districts can still reconsider decisions about the mode of administration (computer-based tests [CBT] or paper-based tests [PBT]) between June 30 and October 1.

Q. For grades 3–8, can my district choose to administer PARCC in one of my schools and MCAS in the others? Can my district choose to administer PARCC in one grade only?
A.
No. The decision to administer MCAS or PARCC tests in grades 3–8 is made on a district-wide basis – not by school or by grade. (Exceptions include Boston, Springfield, Worcester, a small number of Level 4 and 5 schools, and charter schools, who have been informed separately about their decision-making process.) Information for out-placed students whose tuition is paid at public expense is forthcoming.

Q. For grades 3–8, can my district choose PARCC CBT in one grade and PBT in another grade in one of my schools?
A.
No. The decision to administer PARCC CBT or PBT must be made on a school-wide basis. Districts can choose, though, to administer PARCC CBT in some schools and PBT in other schools.

Q. Can my district choose to administer PARCC in grades 9 and 11, even if my district chooses MCAS in grades 3–8?
A.
Yes. The decision to administer the tests in grades 9 and 11 is separate from the decision to administer tests for grades 3–8.

Q. Can my district choose to administer PARCC in only one of the high school grades (9 or 11) or subjects (ELA or Math)?
A.
Yes, the decision can be made on a class by class basis for grades 9 and 11 in 2015 (separate decision for each grade, and for each subject area). Remember that grade 10 students must take MCAS, regardless of whether or not the district chooses to administer PARCC tests in grades 9 and/or 11.

Q. If my district chooses to administer PARCC, how will we test a student who needs an alternate assessment?
A.
Regardless of the district's assessment decision (MCAS or PARCC), the student will participate in the MCAS Alternate Assessment in 2015.

We hope this information is helpful. For more information about the assessment choice, slides from May conference calls and other materials are available at http://www.doe.mass.edu/parcc/. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 781-338-3625 or PARCC@doe.mass.edu.

Thank you,
The DESE PARCC Team

Cc: District Education Technology Directors, and District Test Coordinators



Last Updated: June 11, 2014
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