|Last week, Massachusetts released statewide PARCC results from spring 2015 and it was announced that school and district results will be released during the week of November 9th.
Our district had the opportunity to choose between giving MCAS (our existing state assessment, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) or PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) assessments for the 2014-2015 school year in grades 3-8. We, like most Massachusetts districts, chose PARCC. We saw it as a chance to see where students stood on an assessment specifically designed to test the curriculum standards we use and to become acclimated to a more rigorous assessment. We also saw it as a chance to see how students interact with technology, and to hear feedback from our teachers and administrators on a next-generation assessment.
Results from PARCC are likely to be different than prior years’ MCAS results. That is not unexpected. PARCC is a different measuring stick, and the assessment includes challenging questions designed to measure critical-thinking, writing and multi-step problem solving. These questions are designed to be aligned with the instructional and assessment practices that are emphasized in the Massachusetts Literacy and Mathematics frameworks.
Most Massachusetts students who took PARCC did so on a computer. Students who took the test on a computer and responded to a PARCC survey reported that they had enough to time to finish, that the test was easier than or the same level of difficulty as their school work, and that they preferred taking a computer-based test. Our own experience was similar to the state. Although the first round of testing last year provided some logistical issues for us (similar to the first round of any new implementation), we learned from our challenges and made several changes which resulted in a smoother second round implementation.
We will update you again when we receive our school and district results in two weeks, followed by parent reports in late November. Parents will receive a copy of their child’s detailed score report in late November (An example of what parent score reports will look like is available online at http://understandthescore.org/ .), while educators will receive summary data of students’ scores. We will make a presentation of our district scores at the November 23rd Reading School Committee meeting and during December, each building principal will be making school based presentations at their PTO and School Council meetings.
In the coming weeks, Massachusetts will be evaluating PARCC, and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will decide on November 17th whether to replace MCAS with PARCC or look for other ways to upgrade our assessment system. (MCAS was never designed to be an indicator of college or career readiness and is entirely paper-and-pencil-based.)
Regardless of the Board’s vote, we will use the spring 2015 data to reflect on our students’ strengths and on areas where they may need additional support. For more information on PARCC, please see http://www.doe.mass.edu/parcc/ or www.parcconline.org.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s building principal or the Reading Public Schools Administration Offices.