, Salem, MA


April 8, 2014

Letter: Do we need another new test?

To the editor:

“Just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.” — George Castanza from Seinfeld

This is perhaps the most generous explanation I can imagine for the numerous and utterly false assertions made by Mitchell Chester in his recent Op-Ed piece in which he praised the PARCC test (“Is PARCC a better gauge of student ‘readiness’ for college and career?” April 2).

It’s important to understand, for starters, that in addition to his role as the Massachusetts commissioner of elementary and secondary education, Chester is also serving his third term as national chair of the PARCC Governing Board. This hardly makes him an objective evaluator of PARCC during this sham of a so-called “two-year test drive.”

Here are just two ... “untruths” stated by Chester:

“PARCC provides a solid bridge from K-12 to higher education.”

“It offers a much clearer understanding of whether a student is ready for college.”

There is absolutely zero evidence to support these statements. By Chester’s own admission, PARRC is not even a finished product, so how could any thoughtful person assert that this “untested test” will definitively do what is claimed?

An important question for one to ask is: “How do Massachusetts schools currently measure up?”

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Massachusetts has led all other states in achievement for an unprecedented five testing cycles in a row.

Sixty-three percent of Massachusetts high school students go on directly to college, compared with 55 percent nationwide, putting us in the top tier of states.

A recent Harvard University study found that if Massachusetts were its own country, its students perform on the same level as some of the most educated countries in the world.

The Science and Engineering Readiness Index, which measures how high school students are performing in physics and calculus, on Advanced Placement scores and teacher certification requirements, shows that Massachusetts blows away the competition when compared with other U.S. states.

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