Update on PARCC: Two-Year “Test Drive” Approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

In his November 22, 2013 weekly update Commissioner Mitchell Chester indicated that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has approved his recommendation that the timetable for implementation of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) be slowed to a “two year test drive”.  This recommendation reflects feedback he has heard from superintendents, principles, teachers and school committee members.

His update went on to say, “The two-year transition provides for a robust comparison of MCAS and PARCC, so that we can decide in the fall of 2015 whether to sunset the MCAS English language arts (ELA) and mathematics assessments for grades 3-8 and employ PARCC as our state testing program for these subjects beginning in spring 2016. This “test drive” provides two years to compare and contrast MCAS and PARCC, including the content, format, quality, and standards of performance for the two assessments. It also permits us to transition our accountability uses of the assessment results while maintaining trend lines that link back to pre-PARCC performance.”

The original timetable for implementation of PARCC had pilot testing completed in Spring 2014, with full adoption occurring with the new school year September 2015. This two year plan:

  •  provides teachers and administrators with additional time to refine their implementation of the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks in ELA and mathematics,
  • to become familiar with new online test administration procedures before any final decision on full-scale implementation of PARCC.
  • allows DESE to secure additional funding to ensure that all schools are able to incorporate 21st century learning technologies, including the ability to administer online assessments.

This new plan does not have immediate impact on maaps member schools, but it does give DESE the time to work out any “kinks” before PARCC does come to maaps schools.  The issues still remain as outlined in the maaps January 2014 news bulletin:

maaps member schools are currently in a holding pattern with regard to implementation of PARCC.  Some of the questions needing answers are:

  • How will my school fund the implementation, especially if I need additional technology?
  • When can my school anticipate starting the implementation of PARCC given that special education students are not involved in the pilot testing?
  • If sending districts have the option of choosing PARCC or MCAS, will my school be required to administer both tests, depending on the district?
  • Is there a way to control the “accessibility features” function built in to the computer-based version of the test?  Many students in my school will be extremely distracted by these and it could impact results.

maaps will continue to follow any developments and will immediately inform members of guidance from DESE regarding the above questions and others that may arise.


For more information about PARCC, click here.(www.parcconline.org