Wednesday, November 27, 2013

PARCC Will Replace MCAS For Most BPS Students





In case you missed it in the news last week, the Massachusetts Board of Education voted to accept a two-year transition plan to the PARCC assessment. The original plan to implement PARCC testing called for all Massachusetts students begin taking the new assessment in 2015, but MA Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester has been listening to school and district leaders across the state and has advocated for a more gradual transition:
“I have heard a great deal from school superintendents and others about the importance of pacing ourselves so that schools can implement PARCC and other reform initiatives in a thoughtful way,”he said in the memo. “This transition approach is responsive to the field…”
Many of the concerns schools have is in regards to the online aspect of PARCC testing, something that is new to our state. In order to help facilitate this transition, Burlington has volunteered to help support students and educators across the state in this transition.
We are pleased to be participating in the Spring 2014 PARCC Field Test – and have asked PARCC to expand the sample of our students involved because we believe that this experience will be good for children in Burlington and across the state. The Burlington Community has generously provided us with the technological resources to expand our Field Test to include all students. We are also lucky to have talented people working in the district who are willing to learn from this experience and to share this knowledge with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and across Massachusetts.
Our plan is to use different devices at different grades (i.e. tablets, chromebooks, computer labs, etc.) to determine which environment is best for students. We will be conducting focus groups with students and teachers after each testing window and sharing this information with our stakeholders and other school districts to help prepare for what is ahead.  This district preview will help us to better prepare our students and curriculum for future test administrations.
Because our students are participating in the PARCC, we have the option of opting out of MCAS English Language Arts and Math testing at all grades except grade 10 . Our sophomores will have to take both PARCC and MCAS due to both the state graduation requirement and to qualify for the Adams’ scholarships.  In other words, it appears that we will not be administering the MCAS Test this year (aside from grade 10 and possibly Science in grades 5,8,9)
There are two testing windows for the PARCC assessments. The first, for the Performance Based Assessment (PBA), is March 24 – April 11 and the second, for the End of Year Assessment (EOY), is May 19 – June 6. The PBA consists of three testing sessions and the EOY consists of two. We will share more specifics in regards to dates for each grade as soon as we coordinate them with the DESE and PARCC testing officials.
We have been informed that we will not see the results of the Field Test.  Pearson (the creator of the PARCC test) may share district results but they will not be sharing individual school or student results.  While this may concern some parents, we feel confident in our ability to continue to show evidence of students growth through a variety of assessments that our staff members conduct throughout the year.
You may have lots of questions.  We have lots of questions.  We will be getting out more information as it becomes available.