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Mass. Helping Develop MCAS Alternative

The state's education chief says Massachusetts is taking a lead role in developing a new multi-state test that eventually could replace or even be administered in parallel with the English and math portions of the MCAS.

Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester said Thursday that about two dozen states are involved in the effort (Word Doc — Common Assessment Partnership Overview) that would test students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 10, and possibly in grades 9 and 11.

He says the new exams would better assess analytical skills.

"Those are the kinds of skills that are not easily assessed in the current format of our test," Chester said.

Chester says the tests would be at least as rigorous as the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams, which he says are the best in the country.

"We would not adopt anything or agree to anything that dials back the kind of expectations we have for student performance in Massachusetts," Chester said.

Passing the MCAS is required for a high school diploma. Critics say the state relies too heavily on the MCAS in assessing student achievement.

The changes could take effect beginning in 2014.

This program aired on May 20, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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