PARCC and Massachusetts Are Moving Forward

On November 17, 2015, Karen Nussle, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, issued the following memo on Massachusetts State Board of Education decision on the state’s academic assessment.

Today, the Massachusetts State Board of Education voted to move forward with a compromise that will establish a next-generation, hybrid assessment as a way to update the state’s 18-year-old test and move forward with a new, higher-quality test for its students. State Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester intends to “build from the extensive PARCC development that Massachusetts has been a part of and incorporate items specific to the Commonwealth.”

Should we be worried that Massachusetts is walking away from PARCC? No. Chester has made it clear that the PARCC test will be a “substantial component” of this new, improved assessment – to be administered for the first time in 2017.

This news, coupled with last week’s announcement from the PARCC Governing Board, shows that the states are making changes to ensure that the new high-quality assessments meet their needs. More states will have 21st century, high-quality tests focused on the skills that matter for success in life that are not only comparable across states but also provide honest, accurate information to parents and educators. By giving states more flexibility in how they utilize the content, more states will have the option to assess students using high-quality materials.

Massachusetts’ decision isn’t unique. Earlier this year, Louisiana voted to use a maximum of 49% of PARCC questions on their updated assessments. Louisiana will tailor its new test to align with its new academic standards when they are completed in March 2016 – ensuring that students are assessed to high standards that are specific to their state.

These announcements are part of the evolution of the testing landscape that gives states greater options to deliver a 21st century, superior quality assessments focused on the skills that matter most for success in college and careers.