As part of the state's two-year test drive of PARCC, districts chose whether to give PARCC or MCAS in spring 2015, with the exception of the 10th grade MCAS, which remains a graduation requirement through at least the class of 2019 and was administered in all high schools. Approximately 59 percent of the Massachusetts students who took PARCC did so on a computer, and 41 percent used paper and pencil.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to vote on Nov. 17 on whether to adopt PARCC for English language arts and mathematics.
"These statewide PARCC scores will help establish a baseline for comparison with other PARCC states and with our own progress over time should the board choose to adopt PARCC within our statewide assessment," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester. "I look forward to sharing district and school results later this fall."
The statewide PARCC results showed that in most grades and subjects, students who took PARCC math and English language arts tests were less likely to score in the "meeting expectations" range than MCAS students were to score Proficient or above. The exception was in grade 4, where the percent of students who scored in the "meeting expectations" range on PARCC test and the percent of students who scored Proficient or above on MCAS were the same for math. In English language arts, a higher percentage of fourth graders scored in the "meeting expectations" range on PARCC than scored Proficient or above on MCAS.
The high school PARCC results are not representative of the state as a whole. Relatively few Massachusetts high schools volunteered to give PARCC tests in grades 9 and 11, because of the 10th grade MCAS requirement.
When Massachusetts first gave MCAS in 1998, the percent of students statewide who scored Proficient and above ranged from 20 to 55 percent, but in most grades and subjects it was less than 40 percent.
*While more than half of Massachusetts school districts that serve students in grades 3–8 gave PARCC in the spring, far fewer districts volunteered to use the PARCC high school tests, because the 10th grade MCAS is still a graduation requirement. In addition, some eighth grade students took Algebra I tests instead of eighth grade PARCC math tests.
A note about representative samples
The fact that districts chose which assessment to give to grades 3–8 in spring 2015 meant that the student body in districts that chose MCAS and the student body in the districts that chose PARCC were not representative of the state as a whole in terms of students' prior achievement, income level, race, English proficiency and level of disability. To make the results meaningful for the state as a whole, ESE is using large representative samples of the groups that more closely mirror the state's actual enrollment primarily in terms of prior achievement and secondly with respect to demographics, English proficiency and level of disability. For instance, the grades 3–8 data for MCAS released last month includes the results of about 74 percent of the students in grades 3-8 who took MCAS, not the entire universe of test-takers. When district and school PARCC results are released later this fall, those will include all of the tested students in a given district or school.
For more information on MCAS, visit Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System.
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