SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 19, 2014

Peabody rejects PARCC exam

Superintendent says having two exams is 'distraction' to district

PEABODY — Peabody school officials demonstrated their wariness of Common Core and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam by recently choosing to steer clear of PARCC next spring and instead test students on the existing Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).

The School Committee voted Tuesday to follow a recommendation from Superintendent Joe Mastrocola, who told board members that the district could administer either exam for English Language Arts and math in 2015, despite having participated already in the two-year state trial program for PARCC.

Board member Dave McGeney, an outspoken critic of PARCC and Common Core, hailed that decision as a victory.

He quickly shared the news on a Facebook group dedicated to opposing Common Core standards in Massachusetts, saying “Peabody rejects PARCC.” He noted in a later interview that Peabody was the first school district to take such a vote.

“We’re first in the state, and we won’t be the last,” McGeney said.

Mastrocola said that after multiple discussions with his leadership team, the consensus was to stay with the MCAS.

He outlined several points in a memo to board members, such as a lack of accountability with PARCC, that the district’s current curriculum and data usage for instruction are aligned with the MCAS and that MCAS is still a state requirement for graduation.

“It was a symbolic vote. I think all schools are doing it,” Mastrocola said. “This year was the pilot. We saw what it’s like ... and we selected the MCAS for a couple reasons.”

This spring, about two-thirds of Bay State school districts tested students on the new exam. Some districts tested entire schools, while Peabody and other districts had only one class per grade take one portion of the test. Several other North Shore communities also participated in the field run. Next year, all Peabody students in grades 3 to 8 would have taken the full PARCC exam instead of the MCAS.

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