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Testing, Testing – Is This Assessment On the Mark?

PHOTO: Starting this week, students in Massachusetts school districts will be field-testing a new computer-based assessment that may eventually replace the MCAS tests in math and English-language arts. Photo credit: Mark Scheerer/Publicdomainpictures.net
PHOTO: Starting this week, students in Massachusetts school districts will be field-testing a new computer-based assessment that may eventually replace the MCAS tests in math and English-language arts. Photo credit: Mark Scheerer/Publicdomainpictures.net
March 24, 2014

BURLINGTON, Mass. - Pupils in all schools in Burlington and four schools in Revere will be taking a test this spring in which the test itself will be under the magnifying glass. It's a field test of a computer-based system known as PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) which was designed by a consortium of states to assess student learning under the Common Core standards.

According to Diana Marcus, who teaches fifth grade in Burlington, the test will not be an additional one for pupils this year, nor will they be evaluated on it.

"Not this year. Not this year, because we're still testing the tests so that we can hopefully create - they're attempting to create - valid and reliable test items."

Some Burlington schoolkids will be using iPads to take the online test. In Revere, some will take the exams on paper. The effect of differing technology, district-to-district, will be looked at as well.

Mariregis Fusco, president of the Revere Teachers Association, said her district does not yet have all its pupils working on computer tablets.

"We're very worried about communities that may not have the technology to handle PARCC in the way we've been told it's going to be done," she said. "If there are some communities that do it by - let's say the kids hand-complete it - and other communities that do it through technology, is that a fair basis?"

Diana Marcus said 3,000 Burlington pupils will be doing the field testing.

"No decision has been made yet that PARCC is going to be the test of choice," she pointed out. "The MTA has been very active in saying that they want to have a good understanding of the PARCC and how it is going to be used and what its potentials are."

All told, about 8 percent of Massachusetts pupils will be the "guinea pigs." Some one million schoolchildren in PARCC states will do the field testing this spring.


Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - MA