The MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) is a standardized test that was implemented in MA in 1993 to help improve state education. More recently, implementation of the newer PARCC test (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) by a coalition of member states has resulted in less emphasis on MCAS testing in Massachusetts schools.
The implementation of PARCC testing in states, like the Common Core State Standards it is based on, has led to a long discussion in education and at the state level about whether the changes will improve education. In the past couple of years a few PARCC membership status changes have also occurred, with some states choosing to end their membership.
This fall, some of the PARCC member states released test result data on the most recent testing period, which were lower than expected in some areas of RI, NJ, and MA. Commentators on these results have taken various positions, with some emphasizing that the new status of the test means these results are normal, and that increased preparation for the next test could result in improved results. In RI, where results were comparatively lower than NJ and MA, PARCC testing is still planned to be used in the future, although for a shorter testing version.
In late November, MA announced a larger change that is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2017, which is to implement a hybrid test that draws from the current MCAS and PARCC. The decision resulted from a 8-3 vote at the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the test has begun to be known unofficially as the “MCAS 2.0.”
Currently, no details on the exact content of the hybrid test are known, because it is as yet undeveloped. Its intended foundation in the current MCAS and PARCC, however, may give an overall indication of what its scope may include.
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