Mashpee School Committee voted at its meeting on June 4 to implement the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) starting in spring 2015.
Although superintendent Brian A. Hyde said that the entire state will likely implement PARCC in 2016, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was allowing school districts to decide by June 30 whether to implement the assessment next year.
After consulting with other superintendents, Mr. Hyde learned that every district on the Cape except Sandwich was planning to implement PARCC. He also met with Mashpee school administrators, who came to a unanimous decision to administer the testing program.
“Schools administering PARCC will have their 2015 accountability and assistance levels held harmless, which means that we are a Level 3 district but we will not go down to a Level 4,” he said. “You cannot decline, you may stay the same or you may improve.”
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to link MCAS and PARCC scores next year through a statistical approach called “equipercentile linking,” from which it will calculate achievement levels and Composite Performance Index scores—regardless of which testing the schools have used. The data will be used to calculate new levels for all districts, but schools administering PARCC will be held harmless.
“My biggest feeling about this is that the curriculum is designed to handle PARCC,” school committee member Christopher C. Santos said. “Are the teachers and everybody prepared to move right over?”
Quashnet School principal Patricia M. DeBoer, who was attending the meeting, responded that there would be some teaching required for the new format—for example, students can bubble multiple answers for some questions with PARCC—but otherwise, testing is based on the Common Core standards that the schools have been following.
Committee member Don D. Myers noted that several teachers still “teach to the test” with MCAS and questioned whether they will do the same if the schools administer PARCC.
“That observation is something that we fight on a regular basis,” Ms. DeBoer said, adding that they will try to eliminate “PARCC” from teachers’ vocabulary while instructing as much as they have been trying to eliminate the word “MCAS.”
Mr. Hyde said that the problem with implementing PARCC over MCAS throughout the state is that areas like Western Massachusetts are not technologically capable enough to administer a computer-based test.
“They don’t have the infrastructure . . . we on the Cape and islands and in Mashpee are prepared,” he said.
The committee reached a vote of approval to administer PARCC, with only one vote by Phyllis A. Sprout against the motion.