Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Teacher Survey Recommends PARCC Over MCAS

Ken O’Brien

A group of Massachusetts teachers told the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Tuesday that the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test outperforms the MCAS test, and they recommended the board adopt the new test statewide.

Twenty-three teachers who are participating in the Teach Plus Massachusetts Policy Fellowship presented a report to the board that included feedback from 351 classroom teachers in 74 school districts who looked at the PARCC test. Teach Plus is a national non-profit focused on policy.

Teachers who took part in the survey generally rated the PARCC test favorably, with 72 percent reporting it was a higher-quality assessment than the MCAS.

State education officials will decide next fall if the state will switch from the current standardized MCAS test to the new model that is being test-run around the country. PARCC measures students against Common Core, a multi-state set of educational standards Massachusetts adopted in 2010.

"The findings tell an important story about the quality of the PARCC test and its significance to teaching and learning in the Commonwealth," Lindsay Sobel, executive director of Teach Plus Massachusetts, said in a statement. "The Teach Plus Massachusetts Policy Fellows offer thoughtful recommendations that will help us ensure that teachers and students benefit from the transition to this measure of essential skills."

More than half of the schools districts in the state, 54 percent, opted to try the PARCC test this spring, according to DESE.

The board of Elementary and Secondary Education will begin holding public hearings in April to help decide whether to sunset the MCAS in favor of PARCC. The board this week scheduled five hearings around the state from April 28 through July 7, but did not determine the locations yet.

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