We applaud the Baker administration for proposing that Massachusetts retain its academic independence and testing autonomy, but the Commonwealth should reject any further participation in the PARCC consortium.
MCAS has served Massachusetts very well for nearly two decades. The test and the pre-Common Core standards were the key to Massachusetts’ leadership position that was forged by the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act and demonstrated by historic gains on national and international tests.
As its name suggests, “Next-Generation MCAS” should largely be based on the pre-2011 MCAS and, where appropriate, include questions and modes from other models such as PARCC. This will provide continuity and foster accountability by allowing performance to be measured over time.
Next-Generation MCAS should also use questions developed by Massachusetts educators and academics, and reinstate the practice of releasing all or nearly all of the questions after tests are administered to help classroom teachers shape instruction.
As Next-Generation MCAS is being developed, it is imperative that both the 10th-grade MCAS and the state English and math standards be restored to their pre-Common Core academic quality. The previous standards and MCAS made Massachusetts the envy of the country and the only state that truly is internationally competitive.
The five-year Common Core-PARCC detour needs to be abandoned. It has damaged the standing of the Commonwealth’s students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and undermined the academic quality needed to perpetuate the ideals of our democracy, deliver true equity to underserved students, and compete in the global economy.