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State to Adopt Hybrid MCAS-PARCC Test

BOSTON — In an 8-3 vote, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted Tuesday to replace the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test with a hybrid version that incorporates elements of a proposed replacement, known as PARCC. The new test will be administered starting in the spring of 2017.

School districts that tried out the PARCC this past spring will do so again for 2016, and districts that chose to stick with the MCAS will continue to use it unless they opt to switch to the PARCC, short for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Massachusetts must begin administering the new test in 2017 to comply with a federal law that requires states to use a single standardized test. The state had obtained a two-year waiver to the law so districts could try out the PARCC before the vote.

According to the Boston Globe, the PARCC aims to examine how students arrived at their answers and requires more critical thinking skills than the MCAS, and is aligned with the Common Core standards adopted by the state in 2010. Just like the MCAS, students will have to pass the new hybrid test to graduate.

The Mass. Business Alliance for Education (MBAE), a supporter of the PARCC, issued a statement supporting the decision of Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, with reservations.

“We are encouraged that Board Chairman Paul Sagan clearly stated that, in developing a new test, the board does not intend to duplicate five years of investment by the state and hundreds of Massachusetts educators who developed a high-quality assessment in PARCC. We continue to believe the evidence showed PARCC was a superior assessment,” the Alliance said. “MBAE is concerned, however, that we don’t know what we’re buying, or what it will cost. Although Chairman Sagan pledged not to follow the experience of other states, the fact is that those developing a test like PARCC spent as much as $50 million or more.”

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