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Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers

PARCC Field Test in Massachusetts
[Includes a summary of the 8/23/13 memo from Commissioner Chester]

  1. Of 17 PARCC governing states, 15 are participating in the field test; not included are Florida, Indiana and Oklahoma (OK recently switched to "participating state").

  2. In the development of a large-scale assessment, items must be field tested to ensure they will perform properly on the operational test. PARCC originally estimated that each state would need to administer the field test to 10% of students in the tested grades (3-11) in order to gather sufficient information related to item performance. Because the three states listed above are not participating, the target rose to 15% of students in tested grades.

  3. For the field test to yield valid and reliable information, schools and students must be selected randomly. Pearson, the vendor for the field test, analyzed data from all PARCC states to identify the schools, grades, and number of classes necessary to successfully administer the field test.

  4. Classes are selected to participate as follows:
    • Most classes are selected to field test one of the following components of the field test:
      1. Performance-based assessment (PBA) in ELA [March 24 to April 11]
      2. Performance-based assessment (PBA) in Mathematics [March 24 to April 11]
      3. End-of-year assessment (EOY) in ELA [May 5 to June 6]
      4. End-of-year assessment (EOY) in Math [May 5 to June 6]
    • Approximately 10% of classrooms in the Massachusetts sample are selected to participate in both the PBA and EOY in one subject (ELA or Mathematics).
  5. Estimated testing time for each session:

    ComponentSubjectNumber of sessionsSession length
    PBAELA 32.5 hours for two of the sessions; 2 hours for one of the sessions
    Mathematics22 hours
    EOYELA22 hours
    Mathematics22 hours
  6. Pearson was directed to limit the impact on each selected grade within a school by limiting, when possible, the number of classes selected for the field test in grades 3-8 to two . This, combined with the increase of the sample size from 10% to 15%, explains why so many schools in some districts have been selected for the field test.

  7. The Department believes that the field test affords districts an opportunity to better understand how PARCC will work in its schools, while at the same time acknowledges that the administration is a challenge for schools to fit into already busy workloads and schedules. Although the expectation is that all selected schools will participate in the field test, the Department has developed and offers the following mitigation strategies to schools:

    • All grade 10 classes/students are exempted from taking the PBA; they may be selected to take the EOY.
    • Level 4 schools may opt out of the PARCC field test.
    • Schools that encounter extraordinary circumstances may be allowed to opt out of the field test; requests will be considered by the Department on a case-by-case basis.
    • The Department will allow districts to exempt certain students in grades 3-8 from participation in MCAS, as follows:
      1. Students in classes selected for only the PBA in ELA or Mathematics may be exempted from MCAS participation in that subject.
      2. Students in classes selected for the PBA and EOY in ELA or Mathematics may be exempted from MCAS participation in that subject.


Last Updated: September 27, 2013
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