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Seven Peabody Schools Will Take Possible MCAS Replacement Test

Eighteen states worked together to develop the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam.

Peabody Veterans Memorial High School. Photo credit: Patch file photo.
Peabody Veterans Memorial High School. Photo credit: Patch file photo.

Seven Peabody schools will take the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests as part of a test group this spring.

State education officials are testing whether to replace the MCAS test with the PARCC. Massachusetts is one of 18 states that has been working to develop PARCC. More than 1.35 million students from 14 states will take PARCC field tests in English language arts or mathematics this spring.

About 81,000 Massachusetts students (approximately 8% of the state’s total public school enrollment) will take a PARCC field test.

Captain Samuel Brown, John E. Burke, Center, John E. McCarthy and West Memorial Elementary schools, Higgins Middle School and Peabody Veterans Memorial High School will all take the paper exam. Some schools across the state are taking an online version. 

The state Department of Education and Secondary Education said the PARCC “has the potential to deliver clearer signals to schools, colleges, employers, and parents about what students know and can do and whether they are on the pathway to success after high school.”

Education officials will have a two-year “try out” to determine whether the PARCC “can better serve the Commonwealth's goal of ensuring that all students have the academic preparation necessary to successfully pursue higher education, careers, and citizenship” than the MCAS.

The state has been working with participating schools since September to choose a representative sample of students from a few classes at each school to take the field test. The students who take the field test will not receive a score or grade.

"The academic learning standards we adopted in 2010 are strong, comprehensive, and academically demanding, and we need an equally strong assessment aligned to those standards," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester, who is chair of the PARCC Governing Board. "PARCC promises to provide more accurate measures of the skills that are keys to success after high school. The two-year pilot of PARCC will allow us to build the best test we can and better evaluate whether PARCC could replace our current testing program."

Though Massachusetts students lead the nation in academy performance, state education officials said “challenges remain to ensures that all students are successful.”

“Nearly 40 percent of public high school students in Massachusetts who enroll in one of the states' public higher education campuses are placed in one or more non-credit bearing, remedial courses. In 2010, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to adopt new learning standards that capitalized on feedback from employers and higher education about where our students were often lacking in terms of their literacy and mathematical skills,” according to the state Department of Education and Secondary Education.

State education officials said the MCAS, which started in 1998, has not been upgraded and “was never designed to access college and career readiness.”

The PARCC, on the other hand, is “aligned to the Commonwealth’s new learning standards, will deliver innovative technology-based items and performance-based tasks to better measure students' abilities to think critically and apply what they know. PARCC will assess writing at all tested grades (3-11), rather than just in grades 4, 7, and 10, which is the case for MCAS. PARCC will produce more timely results for school districts to assist educators in planning and tailoring instruction for students in the coming school year,” according to the state.

After this year’s field test, school districts will have the option of administering the PARCC or MCAS to students in grades 3-11 in 2014-15. Grade 10 students will still need to pass the MCAS test in English language arts and mathematics to receive a high school diploma through the Class of 2018.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to vote in fall 2015 whether to replace the MCAS with PARCC in England language arts and mathematics.

diane February 11, 2014 at 10:26 AM
The state Department of Education and Secondary Education said the PARCC “has the potential to deliver clearer signals to schools, colleges, employers, and parents about what students know and can do and whether they are on the pathway to success after high school.” These tests are a bunch of BS !! A test will not determine my childs pathway to success!! Being an honest, caring, hard working individual will decide a persons success!! What does success mean to you? Money?
Karl February 11, 2014 at 03:52 PM
"New learning standards", please spare me. Sounds like more ivory tower speak to me.
Johnny D February 11, 2014 at 04:27 PM
Ever think kids are less prepared today to pursue higher education as a result of standardized testing? People don't teach/learn for passion anymore...it is to pass a test. If it isn't going to be on the test it isn't taught...no time for that "education for the sake of education" nonsense, right? What happened to teaching a subject because you were passionate about it? What if a class asks a question that, while a great and meaningful question, is not part of the "common core curriculum?" Is the teacher just supposed to ignore it and move on to something that some goon in an office has deemed "more important"? System is definitely broken here. Not to mention, this is a nationwide test...and Massachusetts has the best public schools in the country...how do you think other states are going to do on this? Has anyone here ever spent significant time in the south? Implementation of this test has already been put off several times (for several years), what are the odds that it actually ever comes to fruition anyways? What a waste of time, money, resources...and young minds.
Saber Walsh February 12, 2014 at 09:02 AM
Nothing to see here, good comrades, this has nothing to do with federal intrusion into your child's education (like the school lunch program was SUCH a success, comrades!). Of course, if you Google this, you will see that "Pride in Peabody" is no longer our slogan, comrades. It is now, "Progressivism in Peabody," because PARCC is right from the people who are shoving common core down our throats. Florida recently kicked PARCC out of the state. Their governor said, "I told the federal government we are rejecting their overreach into our state education system by withdrawing from PARCC. Last, I issued an executive order to address state assessments, ensure student data security and support a transparent and understandable school accountability system." We should be outraged not only by the fact that our government will stop at nothing to get their hands on our children, our local governments seem to be blissfully hand-in-hand with them to cooperate taking their education away and handing it over to the feds. I'm just more and more disgusted by the trolls we elect to our city governments every single day.
mom February 12, 2014 at 09:51 AM
Well lets go back to basics, college ready would mean the kids were taught what was needed to get into and graduate from college right? But that is NOT what the MCAS was designed for, it was designed to see how well a teacher taught! It was to grade Teachers not the student in the hopes of getting rid of bad teachers. Well clearly that hasn't worked. The ability to teach others is not something everyone can do! Just because you want to be a teacher and you passed all the test to be a teacher doe not make you a teacher! You have to be able to TEACH! Johnny D I have spent time down south and out west and you are right that at the k-12 stage our state schools are far better but then when you get to the college level they pass us. With all the private colleges here we did not invest in out public colleges and we are late to the game. Each has a program or 2 that is great (Salem U is nursing) but on the whole not so much.
mark February 12, 2014 at 02:24 PM
To last poster, Like how many nurses are we going to have in this country? It seems to me all we have are 30+ year old ex druggies that go back to nursing school to get a degree and end up in a low paying field in the corrupt practice of healthcare!
mark February 12, 2014 at 02:27 PM
MCAS is a joke just like the public education system! Waste of taxpayer $$$. Blah blah blah, raise taxes for more education blah blah blah! Same old bleep!
mark February 12, 2014 at 02:42 PM
To the editor, What happened to Castellucio the Communist? The Peabody Patch editor.
mom February 12, 2014 at 02:47 PM
Mark i'm not sure were you're getting you info from but if you look at what is required to pass the state boards to get a nursing degree you will see that the courses are very tough as are the classes you need to take in college to get the degree. Lots of chemistry and anatomy with grades not falling below a B. Not that easy to do for most. That being said you can go to a state school for nursing and not pass the boards so you have a nursing degree but can not practice. The field is far from low paying what are you comparing it to? As for ex druggies, anyone that is capable of turning themselves around is free to pursue a new path and nursing is one of them. They may have a unique take on things from their own experiences too.

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