BOSTON (CBS) – The statewide PARCC scores were released on Tuesday. The controversial standardized test could replace the MCAS all across the state.
It’s been a two year experiment with the PARCC test here in Massachusetts. The scores show that on average students score lower on PARCC than they do on the MCAS, but education officials say that’s because PARCC is a more rigorous test, but one that gives a better assessment.
“MCAS has reached the point of diminished returns,” says Mitchell Chester, the state Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. He says it’s time to replace the MCAS that has been in schools for 18 years.
“MCAS 1.0, if you will, has run it’s course,” he adds. But replace it with what?
They’ve experimented with the more rigorous PARCC for two years, a test designed to be taken on computers. But today they also heard a sobering fact. Of about 1800 schools in the state, 442, nearly a quarter, don’t have the technology to give the test. The cost estimate to fix that is as much as $15 million. But Chester still likes PARCC.
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“PARCC clearly has done a good job. The assessment that’s been developed is a forward looking assessment, it’s a next generation assessment,” Chester says.
At their meeting next month the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to vote on which test tens of thousands of students will take. It may not come down to just MCAS vs. PARCC. They’re also talking about a third option, creating a new test that builds on the strong points of the other two. But not everyone is on board this kind of testing, no matter what they choose.
“I think we need to start calling the absurdity of high stakes testing what it is. It’s not helping our students, it’s not helping our schools, it’s not growing a thoughtful, engaged student body,” says Barbara Madeloni, the president of the Mass. Teacher’s Assoc.
If the board votes for the 3rd option, what they’re calling MCAS 2.0, it will take some time before that test is developed. Meanwhile, they’ll also have to decide which tests students take in the spring.