(Boston) November 12, 2015 – The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) is pleased that Commissioner Mitchell Chester recognizes it’s time to replace the current MCAS with an assessment more relevant for the world in which our students live.
The Commissioner’s proposal to remain a member of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Consortium is encouraging. Yet, his recommendation does not make clear if the next generation MCAS will be built on PARCC. MBAE continues to support the goal of starting with the high quality PARCC test while customizing it for Massachusetts students.
The Commonwealth’s knowledge-based technology, finance, life sciences, healthcare and engineering industries rely heavily on a skilled workforce that requires a rigorous K-12 education and studies leading to two- or four-year degrees. The research clearly shows that PARCC will be more effective in putting students on that path.
MBAE is calling on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to revise the Commissioner’s recommended motion and substitute it with one that more explicitly states that a new MCAS will be built on PARCC.
MBAE is also deeply concerned with the recommendation to administer two different tests again this year. All of the credible, impartial research comparing PARCC and MCAS found that PARCC is a superior assessment. Districts who choose MCAS will be holding students to a lower standard and putting them at a disadvantage.
In summary, to provide the assessment that employers, parents and teachers need, MBAE is calling on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to revise the Commissioner’s recommendation and adopt an approach that includes the following:
- Use PARCC for all districts statewide beginning in 2016 and continuing for the interim until modifications to the test are developed;
- Ensure the customized assessment is a rigorous one built on PARCC with Massachusetts elements incorporated as additions or substitutions; and
- Provide cost information that demonstrates the state will not duplicate work already done to develop PARCC and that the proposed new MCAS is as cost-effective.
This approach sustains the “grand bargain” based on high standards, accountability and equitable resources that has proven to be a solid foundation for improving student achievement over the past two decades.