, Salem, MA

February 11, 2014

New test might replace MCAS


---- — SALEM — Students in more than 20 North Shore public schools will take a practice test this spring for a new assessment system that may replace the high-stakes MCAS exam.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced yesterday that 81,000 students in grades three to 11 — about 8 percent of public school students in the state — will take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness in College and Careers (PARCC) test, which is a new computer-based assessment system.

Schools in Beverly, Peabody, Danvers, Salem and other North Shore districts are participating.

A “representative sample” of students at the designated schools will take the test, the state said.

Starting next month, PARCC field tests will be administered in English and math. The tests do not count, and students will not be graded or receive a test score. The state will use the results to evaluate PARCC.

After the field tests this spring, school districts will have the option next school year of giving either the MCAS or PARCC tests. However, grade 10 students, through the Class of 2018, still must pass the English, math and a high school science and technology/engineering MCAS test to earn a diploma.

The state board will vote next fall whether to adopt the PARCC test in English and math.

Massachusetts is one of 18 states working on the development of the PARCC assessment system.

The state has used MCAS since 1998, but officials said it has not been upgraded and was not meant to determine career and college readiness.

“PARCC promises to provide more accurate measures of the skills that are keys to success after high school,” Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester said in a press release. “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.”

The list of schools taking the field test was announced yesterday.

Tom Dalton can be reached at


Beverly: Cove, Hannah and North Beverly (elementary); Briscoe Middle School

Danvers: Smith (elementary) and Danvers High; Essex Agricultural Technical School

Hamilton-Wenham: Winthrop (elementary); Miles River Middle School

Ipswich: Doyon and Winthrop (elementary); Ipswich Middle School

Marblehead: Village (elementary); Veterans Middle School; Marblehead High; Marblehead Community Charter School

Middleton: Howe-Manning (elementary)

Peabody: Brown, Burke, Center, McCarthy, West Memorial (elementary); Higgins Middle School; Peabody High

Salem: Salem Academy Charter School

Swampscott: Stanley (elementary); Swampscott Middle School; Swampscott High

Topsfield: Proctor (elementary); Masconomet Regional High School