STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
THE STATE BOARD of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday voted to accept Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester’s recommendation to create a new “next-generation” student assessment program building off both the PARCC and MCAS exams.
The hybrid model was approved on an 8-3 vote.
Before the vote, members said they appreciated that the hybrid would let the state keep its autonomy and that they hoped teachers would be involved in building the new test.
After months of debate over whether Massachusetts should continue to administer its MCAS test or switch to PARCC, the test developed by a consortium of states to align to the Common Core curriculum, Chester last week recommended a third route that takes a middle ground between the two exams. His recommended “next-generation MCAS” would draw from PARCC and MCAS, as well as incorporating new test items developed specifically for Massachusetts.
“I would argue that what we have in front of us today is actually a direct response to some of the concerns that we heard, from the public, from superintendents and from quite frankly the business community,” board member Katherine Craven said of Chester’s proposal.
Board chairman Paul Sagan said neither test was perfect, but the hybrid model would allow Massachusetts to combine the best of both, maintain control over the test and capitalize on the investments already made in developing PARCC.
Under Chester’s recommendation, the new test is scheduled to be administered beginning in spring 2017, with schools giving the test via computer by 2019.
Some members expressed concern that a new test would be difficult to refine and roll out in under two years.
“I’m in favor of doing this, I just do not think it can be done in the timeframe that we’re talking about,” said Suffolk University President Margaret McKenna.