The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved a two-year MCAS-to-PARCC transition plan by a vote of 7-3 on November 19. The vote occurred after discussions and presentations about PARCC at three consecutive BESE meetings. The motion that was approved is attached. The timeline is:
The PARCC field test will be administered to about 15 percent of students in 1,300 schools and 340 districts (and in 13 other states). PARCC also plans to release a “practice test” in late March for educators to review and use. (Details about the practice test are not yet available.) Students participating in the field test will take either the Performance Based Assessment (PBA) or End of Year Assessment (EOY) in either ELA or math, but not both. DESE has told districts that they do not have to require students who take the PBA to also take the MCAS test in that subject, but so far most districts have indicated they want all students to take MCAS.
The field test will include items in both ELA and math in grades 3-8. At the high school level, PARCC tests are designed as end-of-course assessments, not grade-level assessments. Students in grades 9 and 11 will field test both the PBA and EOY tests. Grade 10 students will only field test EOY assessments, which are administered after the MCAS.
No student, school or district scores will be generated based on the field test. The purpose of the field test is to identify items that will be used in operational tests in the future and to reject or modify those that don’t work as expected.
Early fall 2014
Analysis of PARCC field-test data by the test developer and DESE staff.
Late fall 2014
BESE receives an update on the PARCC field test that includes an assessment of whether PARCC is on track to be better than MCAS.
Massachusetts schools administer PARCC or MCAS tests, but not both. Districts can choose which test, and then that test must be administered in all the schools in that district (except in several large districts, which may be given the choice to administer PARCC in some schools and MCAS in others). DESE is recommending a “hold harmless” policy for districts or schools that choose PARCC in 2015. That means PARCC results would not cause a district’s accountability level to drop, but could cause it to rise. All grade 10 students will continue to take MCAS through the Class of 2018 to qualify for the Competency Determination. Some grade 10 students will take the EOY test, which is administered after MCAS, but none will take the PBA portion, which is administered before MCAS.
2015-2016 school year
The PARCC Consortium will do standard-setting for PARCC tests and analysis of the operational data. Standard-setting involves determining where the cut scores are for the different levels of achievement. While MCAS has four levels, PARCC will have five. While the consortium will set the levels, Massachusetts will determine what score is needed to meet the Competency Determination requirement. This will likely require changes in state law or regulations, or both.
Late fall 2015
BESE will vote on whether to replace MCAS with PARCC in grades 3-8. A determination about the high school tests and Competency Determination will be made at a later date.
If the Board approves PARCC, operational tests will be administered in grades 3-8. Grade 10 students will continue to take MCAS to through the Class of 2018.
This schedule extends the rollout of PARCC one year longer than originally planned. Originally, PARCC would have replaced MCAS in the spring of 2015. The MTA, MASS, MASC and others urged DESE to extend the timeline, arguing that it was far too fast.
Here is a link to an EdWeek blog post on the implications of the revised timeline:
The three BESE members who voted “no” were Harneen Chernow (labor rep), Ruth Kaplan (parent rep) and Daniel Brogan (student rep). The main reasons cited were concerns that not all schools will have the technology needed to administer the tests online or the capacity to educate students in how to use technology effectively by the 2015-2016 school year. The fear expressed was that this “digital divide” will primarily hurt lower-income students. Several members who voted in favor of the motion expressed support for the tests as a superior measure of students’ college and career readiness. They also noted that now that the Common Core standards have been incorporated into our Curriculum Frameworks, we need an assessment that is measuring student mastery of those standards.