|For Immediate Release|
|Wednesday, June 24, 2009|
|Contact:||Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106 or JC Considine 781-338-3112|
MCAS Improvements Include Faster Results, Less Testing Time
MALDEN - New improvements to the state's assessment system have resulted in the fastest turnaround of student results in the program's history and plans to significantly reduce testing time in future years.
Preliminary student level results from the 2009 English Language Arts (ELA) MCAS exam were provided to districts last week, marking the first time educators will have the entire summer to review data from the tests administered the previous spring. In 1998, the first year that MCAS was administered, districts received their results in mid-October and statewide results were released just before Thanksgiving. The state has released results earlier every year, and in 2008 districts received their student level results in late August.
"From the moment I arrived in Massachusetts I heard loudly and clearly that districts want less testing time, and faster results," said Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "I'm glad to be able to grant both requests so quickly, and think they will lead to a testing program that is both more efficient and more useful."
The data made available to districts last week are preliminary, and do not include results from the MCAS-Alt, which will be scored over the summer. Because these results do not include all test-takers and are still considered preliminary, school, district and statewide numbers have not yet been calculated. These numbers will be made public in early September, allowing districts ample time to examine the student-level data and report any discrepancies back to the Department.
But preliminary or not, an accelerated turnaround of results will give districts the additional time necessary to map out each student's curricular needs for the upcoming year, said Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents.
"This extra time will be invaluable for educators who will have time to plan out the best coursework to benefit their most at-risk students," Scott said. "This is a huge step forward in the state's assessment system."
Beginning next year, preliminary ELA results and multiple-choice Math results for grades 3–8 and 10 will be made available to districts by the end of June, and will include results from students with severe special needs, who participated in the MCAS-Alt.
Also beginning next year, testing time will be decreased on the grades 3–8 ELA, Math, and Science, Technology and Engineering exams. The ELA Reading Comprehension tests for grades 3–8 will be reduced from three 45-minute sessions to two 60 minute sessions; the Math exams for grades 3–6 will be cut from two 60 minute sessions to two 45 minute sessions; the Math exams for grades 7 and 8 will be reduced from two 60 minute sessions to two 50 minute sessions, and the STE exams for grades 5 and 8 will be reduced from 60 to 45 minutes per session.
"I see these changes as significant improvements," Chester said. "While our testing program is one of the best in the country, we are committed to advancements like these, which will both maintain and improve the rigor and quality of our MCAS program and better serve our students."