MCAS And PARCC: The Future Of Testing In Massachusetts

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The future of school testing has long been a subject of passionate debate. It's back in the news here in Massachusetts because of plans to ditch the MCAS, which students have been taking since 1998, in favor of the PARCC test.

PARCC stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. It's a computer-based test linked to the new Common Core standards in math and English. The shift has reignited the debate between those who demand accountability and evidence that ALL children are learning, and the critics, who say "teaching to the test" comes at the expense of real education.

Over the weekend, President Obama made reference to this when he recommended that schools spend no more than 2 percent of class time on testing.

"I believe that in moderation smart, strategic tests can help us measure our kid's progress in school. It can help them learn. But I also hear from parents who rightly worry about too much testing and from teachers who feel so much pressure to teach to a test, that it takes the joy out of teaching and learning, both for them and the students," Obama said. "I want to fix that"

And on Monday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he's open to talking about how much time to spend on testing, but he also said tests are essential.

"The last thing I am ever going to support is getting away from the idea that there should be some base-line expectation about somebody who gets a high school diploma learns here in the commonwealth," Baker said.


, reporter for WBUR's Learning Lab. He tweets @pbalonon_rosen.

Kalimah Rahim, AP language and composition instructor at New Mission High School. She tweets @KalimahRahim.

Caitlin Gaffny, sixth grade math teacher at Tobin K-8 Middle School.

More In This Series

MCAS And PARCC: The State Secretary And Commissioner Of Education Weigh In

  • State Secretary of Education James Peyser and Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester say why they think a third option, MCAS 2.0, is the best solution.

MCAS And PARCC: Debating Massachusetts’ Testing Future

  • One of the original designers of MCAS and the leader of a teacher advocacy group debate the merits of MCAS versus PARCC and what should be chosen for the state.


WBUR's Learning Lab: PARCC, MCAS And The Future Of Standardized Testing In Massachusetts

  • "The implementation of PARCC exams marks the switch to Common Core standards in the state. With new standards, new ways of evaluating them are needed. The large-scale standards change is not one that was expected to transition completely smoothly, and, unsurprisingly, it has not."

The Boston Globe: Test Isn’t Better At Gauging Readiness, Study Says

  • "A test promoted as a more effective tool than the MCAS at measuring students’ college readiness is no better at predicting performance than the longstanding assessment, according to a new study commissioned by the state."

The Boston Globe: Many Mass. School Districts Opting For PARCC Over MCAS

  • "Slightly more than half of the 362 public school districts across Massachusetts with third- through eighth-graders will test those students this month with the new PARCC exam, which is in line to replace the MCAS as the state’s test of choice for student achievement. Meanwhile, about a quarter of the 295 public districts with at least one high school will use the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, assessment for students in grades 9 and 11 this year."

This segment aired on October 27, 2015.


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