Welcome! Login | Register
 

10 Great Things to do in Worcester This Weekend - October 19, 2018—10 Great Things to do in Worcester This…

Red Sox Advance to The World Series—Red Sox Advance to The World Series

Finneran: Sports Talk—Finneran: Sports Talk

BBB to Host Shred Day in Worcester—BBB to Host Shred Day in Worcester

Revs Fall to Real Salt Lake 4-1—Revs Fall to Real Salt Lake 4-1

Worcester Police Investigate Suspicious Device on Dorchester Street—Worcester Police Investigate Suspicious Device on Dorchester Street

VIDEO: Red Sox Beat Astros 8-6 on Amazing Catch to Take 3-1 Series Lead in ALCS—Red Sox Beat Astros 8-6 to Take 3-1…

Holy Cross Basketball Picked to Finish 5th in Patriot League Preseason Poll—Holy Cross Basketball Picked to Finish 5th in…

Man Stabbed in the Area of Main Street in Worcester—Man Stabbed in the Area of Main Street…

Major City Police Chiefs Endorse Baker-Polito for Re-Election—Major City Police Chiefs Endorse Baker-Polito for Re-Election

 
 

Worcester School Committee Divided on Standardized Testing Debate

Friday, June 27, 2014

 

While school districts throughout Massachusetts begin to make their decisions as to which form of standardized test they will be taking for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year, the Worcester Public School District is nowhere near ready to make a decision.

Districts are given the opportunity to take the MCAS test – which is the current state standard – or the newly created PARCC test, which is designed to test college readiness in addition to student proficiency.

“As we see more and more decisions come in, the results are starting to steady,” said JC Considine, the Chief of Staff for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Right now, we are looking at close to a 50-50 split. We are coming into our second year with the PARCC test. We are hoping to have a good sample from both tests to help better inform analysis so that the state can make a decision as to which test will be the standard moving forward.”

June 30th is the first deadline for districts to decide whether or not they will take up PARCC testing. If a decision is made after the June 30th deadline, there is no guarantee that districts will get their choice because funding is limited. The Worcester Public School District – whose decision will be made by the school committee with input from the district’s administration – will vote at the end of July.

MCAS vs PARCC

The Worcester School Committee is very much split in regards to the upcoming decision. While some members are in full support of one test or the other, others are noncommittal until they see more evidence.

“I would like to hear the pros and cons for both the PARCC and the MCAS,” said John Monfredo, a member of the school committee. “I want to make sure that all the facts are presented before a decision is made. Before we rush to a judgment, let’s listen to the teachers, principals, and students to see what is working and what isn’t.”

Brian O’Connell of the school committee feels that the MCAS test should stay as the state testing standard because MCAS was a tailor-made test for Massachusetts – a state with high education standards. Brining in a test like PARCC – which is meant to be a nationalized test – could be a major step back for the Commonwealth.

There are a few members of the school committee that would like to give PARCC testing a chance. Because it is taken on the computer, it is a test that is tailored toward the 21st century.

“PARCC testing has been designed to test students on college readiness and 21st Century skills,” said Hilda Ramirez of the school committee. “A computerized test shouldn’t be a surprise; this is why the district put an emphasis of improving our technology infrastructure. I believe that the right steps are being taken to help districts align to PARCC.”

Hybrid Model

Worcester is one of three districts – Boston and Springfield being the other two – that are allowed to chose one of the two tests or a hybrid of both, having a select number of schools taking the PARCC with the rest continuing with the MCAS.

The hybrid approach is also something currently under debate. While some committee members are in support of potentially going to a hybrid system based on the needs of schools on an individual level, other committee members feel that the switch should be made wholly or not at all.

“I don’t want to see a hybrid of both tests; I want to see one or the other,” said Dianna Biancheria, a school committee member. “The way I look at it is that the school district is prepared for PARCC testing or it isn’t. As a district, if we are ready and all factors are in place, then I see us moving forward. To split up the district would be irresponsible.”

Standardized Testing Not Needed

Much of the debate has been in choosing which method of standardized test students should be evaluated on next year, but there are a few school committee members who don’t think that either method is particularly helpful.

According to John Foley, standardized tests help to evaluate students, but they are just one of many data points that students should be evaluated on. Rather than putting so much emphasis on the test, some committee members feel that other factors should be looked at.

“I think it is unfortunate that we have to choose between two different standardized tests; we are choosing between two equally bad options,” said Tracy Novick. “Teachers are evaluating students all of the time. When you look at the list of districts and their decision being split right down the middle, it should really tell you something about these tests.”

 

Related Slideshow: MA Education Officials Debate Future of State Standardized Tests

Prev Next

Mitchell Chester

Commissioner, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

“We are in the middle of a two-year tryout of the PARCC. You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive. We know we have some items that need revision, that students found them confusing."

Prev Next

Dianna L. Biancheria

Worcester School Committee

“I don’t want to see a hybrid of both tests; I want to see one or the other. The way I look at it is that the school district is prepared for PARCC testing or it isn’t. As a district, if we are ready and all factors are in place, then I see us moving forward. To split up the district would be irresponsible.”

Prev Next

John L. Foley

Worcester School Committee

“There will always be some form of assessment tool in place to look at student achievement. The biggest concern that I have with moving to PARCC testing is that we lose the continuity of testing. Any sort of curriculum shift will render previous scores irrelevant. But then again, you always have to start somewhere.”

Prev Next

David Perda

Chief Research & Accountability Officer, Worcester Public School District

“With any new initiative there is always a form of a learning curve. It would make it easier on the district if we could do some sort of hybrid. As a district, we don’t currently have any recommendation yet, but we are still giving it a lot of consideration; we have been asking a variety of people within the district about their opinion.”

Prev Next

John F. Monfredo

Worcester School Committee

“I would like to get additional facts on PARCC testing. If PARCC is the next coming of MCAS then I want to find out exactly what we have to do and what some of the advantages could be. I would like a postponement of another year so that we can make an intelligent decision.”

Prev Next

Tracy O'Connell Novick

Worcester School Committee

“I think it is unfortunate that we have to choose between two different standardized tests; we are choosing between two equally bad options. Teachers are evaluating students all of the time. We don’t need a formalized test which is something that is so outside of the classroom.”

Prev Next

Linda Noonan

Executive Director, Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education

“MCAS is a good test for basic skills and testing for proficiency, but it is a basic test. It doesn’t test college readiness. We need to have an assessment in place properly tests whether or students are ready for higher education.”

Prev Next

Brian A. O'Connell

Worcester School Committee

“The MCAS was developed specifically for Massachusetts as the standard. I’m concerned with PARCC testing because it is based on a national standard, whereas in Massachusetts we hold ourselves to a higher standard. I think that we should have a test that is tailor made to our state’s individual needs.”

Prev Next

Hilda Ramirez

Worcester School Committee

“PARCC testing has been designed to test students on college readiness and 21st Century skills. A computerized test shouldn’t be a surprise; this is why the district put an emphasis of improving our technology infrastructure. I believe that the right steps are being taken to help districts align to PARCC.”

Prev Next

JC Considine

Chief of Staff, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the state came down to a 50-50 split. We are hoping for a good split so that we can make sure that both sides are accurately represented, so that when the time comes, we can make a decision as a state.”

 
 

Related Articles

 

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

 

X

Stay Connected — Free
Daily Email