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Massachusetts Dumps MCAS for PARCC-stuffed “MCAS 2.0”

November 17, 2015

On November 12, 2015, the PARCC consortium announced that it will now offer several “testing options,” which amounts to little more than PARCC now becoming a test item vendor by degrees.

Weeks before, on October 19, 2015, Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester proposed that DESE create a hybrid of the state’s current assessment, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) and PARCC.

He called it “MCAS 2.0.”

It should come as no surprise that on November 17, 2015, Massachusett’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) voted 8-3 fr what amounted to a set-up: either a revised MCAS (i.e., now PARCC-stuffed MCAS 2.0) or full-blown PARCC.

So, the DESE choice was actually Sort of Hidden PARCC or Obvious PARCC.

And in typical, corporate-reform “urgency,” MCAS 2.0 is supposed to be constructed, polished, and ready for use in spring 2017.

Note that spring 2016 is just beyond the approaching holiday season.

However, Chester, who will apparently continue as PARCC governing board chair (now that PARCC has been remade as a “next generation item vendor”) believes that MCAS 2.0 is “doable” because MCAS is not “from scratch.”

One could view this from two perspectives: One is that MCAS already exists. But the other is that MCAS 2.0 will be the candy shell of MCAS with a nougat PARCC center.

Which makes me think of New York.

I wonder if this thinly-disguised effort to transform MCAS into PARCC will inadvertently fuel the Massachusetts Opt Out movement.

Chester may have pushed Massachusetts teachers, parents and students too far. He  might have just created Mass Opt Out 2.0.

broken pencil 3


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published on June 12, 2015.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    I sure hope that this gets stopped in its tracks with opt out as our only recourse here in Massachusetts. We shall see. Testing is so ingrained here. I moved from Washington State last year and I a in serious culture shock due to the testing culture in the schools that has had at least a decade more than Washington to evolve. It is disheartening. The children are little robots. I see little critical thinking or authentic problem-solving encouraged. Teaching is test-prep focused. Of course, the test scores have been misused far more here than in Washington, evaluating teachers for quite some time now. Thanks for the update.

    • I am curious to see what happens in MA when the coveted high test scores are affected by an MCAS-PARCC-conversion rush job.

  2. Smack-dab in the middle of the bulls-eye on this one! (And opt-out, not mentioned, not considered,
    not even dreamed of at the board meeting.)

  3. russelmh permalink

    MCAS 2.0 will come with some risks (see but could also help further strengthen the states summative assessment program. It will be interesting see how this develops.

  4. How do you respond to critics who say, “These are not high-quality summative assessments – they predict college and/or career success very poorly.”?

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