AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB) — Some students used to taking the MCAS would probably be relieved to learn they might not have to take it next year.
However, it may be replaced by a new standardized test, The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or, PARCC.
“Two consortiums of states are trying to figure out if they pool their resources, could they come up with a better test, instead of each state having their own test to assess progress academically,” said Michael Morris, Director of Evaluation and Assessment at Amherst Public Schools. “I think the common core captures the types of things that the 21st century really wants kids to know and be able to do in both ELA and math. PARCC is designed to assess common core driven skills. As a high school principal, the question is settled by PARCC. Amherst Regional High School Principal Mark Jackson stated.
Massachusetts is one of 19 states, in addition to the U.S.Virgin Islands and Washington D.C. to give parcc a trial run. Amherst was chosen as one of 7 local pilot school districts.
There are some major differences between PARCC and MCAS.
PARCC is done by computer, which would increase testing time. The MCAS takes 6 hrs.
PARCC will be timed, MCAS isn’t.
MCAS currently tests grades 3-8 and 10. PARCC would test everyone in grades 3-11.
Even with all the differences, Principal Jackson sees this as an opportunity that can bring standardized testing into the 21st century. “If schools embrace the common core as they should, then the PARCC is actually about doing the kinds of work that we can have kids master. I think it holds great promise,” added Principal Jackson.
If Massachusetts decides to go with PARCC, they have the option of beginning with either 2014-15 school year, or the 2015-2016 school year.
PARCC received a $186 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Race to the Top Assessment Competition.
Other local school districts taking part in the pilot program include
Belchertown, Easthampton, Granby, Hadley, Northampton, and Westhampton.