Education Commissioner Proposes Alternative To PARCC, MCAS Tests

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As state education officials prepare to vote next month on whether to stick with MCAS exams or adopt a new set of standardized tests known as PARCC, the state's education commissioner is presenting a third option.

Calling it a sort of "MCAS 2.0," Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester is proposing blending the best of the MCAS and PARCC tests.

Regardless of which test the state ultimately chooses, Chester says he wants the state to maintain control of its testing standards.

"Wherever we go, whether we build on the development we've been a part of with PARCC or whether we go in a different direction, we need to be in control of the future of the assessment program in Massachusetts," Chester told WBUR's Bob Oakes.

Chester says MCAS in its current form emphasizes teaching to the test and does not improve teacher instruction or student learning.

"MCAS has run its course," Chester said. "It was an outstanding assessment ... but at this point it's reached a point of diminished returns and it's time for a next generation assessment in Massachusetts."

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is set to vote on whether to adopt the new PARCC tests next month.

Listen above to Bob Oakes' full conversation with Mitchell Chester.

This article was originally published on October 20, 2015.

This segment aired on October 20, 2015.



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