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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

MCAS Bias and Sensitivity Committee Recruitment

To:Superintendents and Other Educational Leaders
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D.
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:October 6, 2011

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The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is seeking educators and other members of the educational community to serve as members of the MCAS Bias and Sensitivity Committee. Members of this committee are directly involved in assisting the Department in reviewing MCAS test items and reading passages for possible bias and sensitivity concerns, based on considerations of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, age, socioeconomic status, geography, religion, sexual orientation, culture, and social appropriateness. We are seeking committee members with experience and understanding of bias and sensitivity issues, as well as knowledge of the purposes of the MCAS testing program. This is a rewarding professional development opportunity for educators and a very important part of the development of the MCAS tests. Please inform your faculty and colleagues of this opportunity. Individuals who previously served or currently serve as Bias and Sensitivity Committee members may reapply.

Committee Members' Responsibilities

Bias and Sensitivity Committee members assist the Department in the review of MCAS reading passages, test questions, and scoring rubrics. The Department strongly believes that all test materials should be free of bias and sensitivity issues in order to ensure that all students are provided with the opportunity for their best possible performance on assessments of the learning standards in the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks.

Committee members review all test questions prior to field-testing and make appropriate comments and suggestions for refinements. Committee members also review MCAS ELA passages, as well as composition writing prompts for grades 4, 7, and 10, and make recommendations regarding their eligibility for use on MCAS tests. After items are field-tested, committee members review item statistics that indicate how each item performed among specific subgroups of students.

Membership Structure and Number of Meeting Days

The Bias and Sensitivity Committee consists of up to 15 members. Committee members will be selected on the basis of relevant experience and education, with the goal of assembling a committee with an appropriately broad representation. The membership term will begin in January 2012 and extend through December 2012. Committee members are required to attend all scheduled meetings, which run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., during the school year and summer. There will be approximately 10 days per year for MCAS review in 2012 on a schedule to be determined. Upon selection, successful applicants will be sent a calendar of meetings and will be asked to confirm their commitment to attend.

Reimbursement for Expenses

Committee members are reimbursed for mileage, and lodging is provided to members who live 55 or more miles away from the meeting site. In addition, committee members receive professional development points for their service. The Department will reimburse districts for actual substitute teacher costs up to $125 per day or will provide an honorarium to committee members who are not otherwise compensated for their work. For summer meetings only, all committee members will be provided with an honorarium and are not required to live more than 55 miles from the meeting site in order to be provided with lodging.

Application Procedure

Complete applications must include the following three components:

  1. Completed application form Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document with Superintendent's signed recommendation
  2. Current résumé that includes:
    • Experience, education, and professional development related to committee responsibilities
    • Memberships in or relationships to relevant organizations
  3. Statement of interest
    The statement (1-2 pages) should describe why the applicant wishes to serve on the Bias and Sensitivity Committee and what specific training, expertise, and experience will enable the applicant to make a positive contribution as a Bias and Sensitivity Committee member. The statement should also include mention of the group(s) that the applicant feels qualified to represent, along with appropriate justification. *Please note: Current committee members who wish to reapply are not required to submit another statement of interest.

The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, November 4, 2011. Notification will be sent by mid-December 2011. Please see the attached application for further instructions. If applicants have any questions, they may call Haley Freeman, Coordinator of Test Development, in the Office of Student Assessment Services at 781-338-3625.



Last Updated: October 7, 2011
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