SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

June 13, 2014

Deadline looms on MCAS replacement

School districts have until June 30 to adopt new assessment test

BEVERLY — Local school districts are facing a June 30 deadline to decide whether to drop MCAS next year in favor of a new standardized test.

The test, known as PARCC, was administered in two-thirds of the state’s school districts on a trial basis this spring, including 20 on the North Shore.

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is scheduled to vote next year on whether to adopt PARCC as the state’s new assessment system for math and English language arts starting in 2016. But school districts have the option of starting a year early, without the results hurting their accountability level.

The Peabody School Committee has already voted against adopting PARCC, while the Danvers School Committee has voted in favor for grades 3-8. School committees in Salem and Beverly are scheduled to discuss and/or vote on the matter next week.

Statewide, about 70 districts have informed the state of their decision, with 57 percent voting in favor of adopting PARCC for next year, according to JC Considine, chief of staff for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“Some superintendents are saying, ‘I want my kids to have every exposure possible to this test, because it very likely will become our new assessment program,’” Considine said. “Others are saying, ‘Let’s stick with what’s familiar until we hear from the (state) board.’ There are compelling reasons on both sides.”

PARCC, which stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is a computer-based test designed to align with the Common Core curriculum standards that have been adopted by 43 states.

Considine said school districts must make a decision by June 30 in order to be guaranteed the chance to administer PARCC in the spring of 2015 for grades 3-8. They can also decide whether to adopt the test for grades 9 and 11, if funding is available.

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