Massachusetts to Release PARCC Results September 21, 2015
In a memo dated September 15, 2015, and sent to members of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), Massachusetts education commissioner (and PARCC governing board chair) Mitchell Chester noted that on September 21, 2015, he will be releasing “partial PARCC statewide results” to the public. That same day, statewide results on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) will also be released. (School and district MCAS will be released on September 24, 2015.)
Here are Chester’s opening remarks:
This fall I will be making a recommendation to you on whether Massachusetts should replace the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) assessments for English language arts and mathematics with the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments. We have scheduled a substantial amount of time for briefings and discussion on this important question.
Chester’s explanation for deciding to release partial PARCC results in September:
The PARCC results that we will be releasing on September 21 will not be a complete, final package, but because of the timetable for the Board’s deliberations, I thought it important to share with you whatever data we have available.
In the memo, Chester notes that finalized PARCC results will be released in October/November.
The memo also outlines the process that Massachusetts will undergo up to and following the November 17, 2015, BESE vote to adopt either PARCC or MCAS as the official Massachusetts statewide assessment.
In 2014-15, just over half of Massachusetts districts chose to administer PARCC. Chester is the PARCC governing chair, and according to the PARCC MOU (memorandum of understanding), as a member of the PARCC governing board, Chester’s state of Massachusetts should have already adopted PARCC as the statewide assessment for 2014-15. (See details here.)
This did not happen, yet Chester continues to chair PARCC. And not only that– he will be offering BESE his recommendations to either adopt PARCC or MCAS as the statewide assessment in 2016.
Conflict of interest?
As it stands, it appears that PARCC is a dying consortium. As of this writing, only 7 states and DC are committed to PARCC in 2016. Louisiana is out (the 2015 Louisiana legislature forbade contracting with PARCC for 2016 assessments and put a limit that less than half of 2016 assessment items could be PARCC items) , as are Arkansas, Mississippi, and Ohio.
And Massachusetts was not completely in– yet Mitchell Chester is chairing the PARCC governing board.
So, it will be interesting to follow the impact that the September 21, 2015, “partial release” of PARCC has in Massachusetts, and it will also be interesting to hear Chester’s recommendation and follow BESE’s November 17, 2015, vote– which could be the fatal blow to an already weakened PARCC.
PARCC-exiting state Ohio was the first PARCC state to release PARCC results. The Ohio PARCC results were for online test takers only– approximately two-thirds of Ohio’s PARCC test takers. The remaining third took PARCC on paper.
Ohio also released two ways to interpret the PARCC scores. The Ohio State Department of Education interpreted the PARCC results according to Ohio law– which has more students as “proficient.”
In short, the Ohio DOE did not adhere to the official PARCC cut scores when interpreting the PARCC results. Nor does it have to since Ohio has exited PARCC.
The question remains as to whether other PARCC states will also modify interpretation of PARCC results according to unique, state-determined criteria.
All the more reason to doubt PARCC survival.
Surely all of this is on PARCC governing board chair Mitchell Chester’s mind.