|For Immediate Release|
|Monday, February 10, 2014|
|Contact:||JC Considine 781-338-3112|
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Releases List of Schools to Participate in 2014 PARCC Field Test
Students to "test drive" new assessment system aligned to the state's rigorous, college and career-ready learning standards
MALDEN - The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced today the list of public schools where students in grades 3-11 will try out a new computer-based assessment system that 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. State education leaders will use evidence from a two-year try out to determine whether the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or 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.
Beginning in March, approximately 81,000 students – or about 8 percent of the state's total public school enrollment – will take a PARCC field test in English language arts or mathematics. A field test allows students to try out a new test before it counts and helps policymakers determine the fairness, validity, and accuracy of test questions. Since September, the Department has worked with participating schools to choose a representative sample of students from a few classes at each school to take the field test. No participating student will receive a score or grade based on her or his performance.
"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."
Massachusetts students lead the nation in academic performance, but challenges remain to ensure 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.
MCAS has served the Commonwealth well since its inception in 1998. However, MCAS has not been upgraded since then and was never designed to assess college and career readiness. PARCC, which 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.
"In my forty years in higher education, I've never seen such a level of collaboration between PreK-12 educators and college faculty, who worked in 'engagement teams' around the state to lay the groundwork for the PARCC assessments," said Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland, who serves as Co-Chair of the PARCC Advisory Committee on College Readiness. "The result is that PARCC assessments will serve as a solid bridge from PreK-12 to college, providing a much clearer understanding of students' readiness to do college-level work than is possible under the current system of assessments."
Last November, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to adopt a two-year transition period before a decision is made on whether to fully implement PARCC. The transition period also allows teachers and administrators the opportunity to continue to refine their implementation of the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks in English Language Arts and Mathematics, which incorporate the Common Core State Standards. The Department has supported this implementation by developing curriculum resources, including model curriculum units, and providing professional development to strengthen instruction. The transition period also allows the state to continue to work with districts on securing additional funding to ensure that all schools can incorporate 21st century learning technologies, including the ability to administer online assessments.
"In a recent poll, a majority of our members said they support the Common Core standards, citing better preparation for college or a career," said Paul Toner, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA). "To help with implementation, the MTA has held leadership trainings and member conferences. We are especially excited about a joint MTA-Teach Plus initiative in which 150 MTA members are developing hundreds of model curriculum units to be shared widely with other teachers."
Following this year's field test of PARCC, school districts in 2014-15 will have the option of administering either PARCC or MCAS to students in grades 3-11. Grade 10 students through the class of 2018 will continue to be required to pass the grade 10 MCAS tests in English language arts and mathematics and a high school science and technology/engineering test to meet the state's Competency Determination requirement and earn a high school diploma. In fall 2015, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote whether to adopt and fully implement PARCC in English language arts and mathematics, and thereby replace MCAS in those two subjects. The MCAS science and technology/engineering test will continue in its current form.
Massachusetts is one of 18 states that have worked collaboratively over the past several years to develop PARCC. This spring, more than 1.35 million students from 14 of those states, including Massachusetts, will take a PARCC field test in English language arts or mathematics.
Massachusetts Districts and Schools Participating in the Spring 2014 PARCC Field Test (as of 2-6-14)