SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 14, 2014

School board gives opt-out on new test

PEABODY — The School Committee has voted 5-1 to allow parents to excuse their children from the upcoming Common Core tests.

“Our schools and students are being tested continually,” member Beverley Griffin Dunne, said, noting that the pilot testing for Common Core would be in addition to the state MCAS tests.

It is too much, she said, “for the state to just throw another test in.”

The testing program is known as PARCC, which stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, and the test is scheduled to be taken this spring as part of the Common Core effort to set national education standards. Massachusetts is one of 45 states that have committed to adopting Common Core.

Local systems scheduled to administer the test this spring include Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Middleton, Salem Academy Charter School and Swampscott, as well as Peabody.

The school board voted unanimously to petition the state’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, Mitchell Chester, to withdraw Massachusetts from the program.

The only vote against the parental opt-out came from Jarrod Hochman, who questioned the school board’s authority to do this.

“It was a rule-of-law question,” he said, adding that he is opposed to switching from MCAS testing to the Common Core program.

Dunne said the new test is being tried out over the next three years as a possible replacement for MCAS. She sees it as a research program that ought to require permission from parents before kids participate. At the same time, however, Dunne sees value in Common Core.

“I do think you have to have some common standards so we have the ability to raise achievement in all the states,” she said.

Member Dave McGeney said there will be no ramifications if parents decide to have their children not take the test.

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