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Framingham School Committee Votes 4-3 to Stay With MCAS Over PARCC Testing

The School Committee also voted to re-look at the vote in the fall.

The Framingham School Committee voted 4-3 Tuesday night, to stay with MCAS testing and not move forward with the new PARCC testing for the 2014-15 school year.

The vote went against the recommendation of Framingham Superintendent of Schools Stacy Scott and against the wishes of School Committee Chair Beverly Hugo.

PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. 

Voting in favor of moving to PARCC was Hugo, Eric Silverman and Jim Stockless.

Voting against the move right now was Andy Limeri, Don Taggart, Heather Connolly and Michelle Brosnahan.

PARCC is a group of states working together to develop a set of assessments to measure whether students are on track to be successful in college and their careers. 

The high quality, computer-based K–12 assessments in mathematics and English language arts/literacy provide teachers, schools, students, and parents better information whether students are on track in their learning and for success after high school, and tools to help teachers customize learning to meet student needs, according to the PARCC website.

After the unexpected 4-3 vote, the School Committee decided to re-vote in the fall on whether to have students take PARCC instead of MCAS exams.

The Commonwealth has set an early application deadline of June 30 for school districts to vote to go forward with PARCC over MCAS for students in grades 3-8. Grade 10 students would still take MCAS.

There is a second deadline Oct. 1, but there is no guarantee that all the slots for PARCC pilot districts will not be filled.

During the public comment period of the meeting, Framingham Teachers Association Co-President Sarah Smith asked the School Committee to pause and not rush to accept PARCC.  

Smith described the unveiling of the process to accept these new assessments as "rushed." She said she was worried that the district was not ready technologically.

She said the Association was not against PARCC, justed wanted to "pause the test" to get more information and more training for teachers.

Smith said families also need to be included in the process and made aware of the implications and requirements.

The Brophy teacher and co-union president was not the only teacher to speak at the meeting on PARCC 

Barbieri Elementary teacher Tamar Szmuilowic said the teachers have just been given an exciting new curriculum, which is missing a few lessons plans; and now is not the time to add a new assessment (PARCC). She too asked the School Committee to delay their vote and pause on accepting PARCC.

Walsh seventh grade student Ayushi Shirke also spoke about PARCC before the vote. She was one of a small group of student who piloted the test this year. She said there were technical issues with the test, due to wi-fi issues in her building and that made the test stressful for students. She said technology and the layout of the test made it difficult for students to navigate the test. She suggested the Committee postpone its decision to move forward with PARCC.

The FTA also presented a petition of more than 175 signatures from teachers, staff, parents and students asking the School Committee to not vote to accept PARCC by the June 30 deadline.

Feedback from staff is what persuaded Taggart to vote not to move forward with PARCC right now.

Limeri said he did not have enough information and wished the School Committee had more time to gather data and information before the June 30 deadline. He said the fact that staff had issues concerned him.

Hugo argued Common Core is a better curriculum and PARCC a better test and Framingham should move forward now.

Scott said his preference was for Framingham to "dive in" and try PARCC now, as there is a large probability the state will move everyone to the new assessment soon.

The Commonwealth's Board of Higher Education is expected to vote in 2015, if PARCC will permanently replace the MCAS beginning in 2016.

David McGeney June 18, 2014 at 06:29 AM
Superintendent Scott is wrong. PARCC is NOT inevitable. In fact its ratings are dropping faster than the Kardashians TV show. 23 States originally signed up for PARCC and they're down to 9. Smarter Balance has twice as many states using their test and 18 other states are using an assortment of other options. The only reason some superintendents still believe PARCC is "inevitable" is because (inexplicably) our Education Commissioner, Mitchell Chester, is also the President of PARCC, Inc. (Conflict of Interest much?) Look, MCAS is not perfect - it just happens to be better than every other standard and system in the country and among the best in the world. Common Core and PARCC are both losing support everywhere. The rollout out has been an unmitigated disaster. It is a theory that can not point to any specific or proven improvement in student achievement. The best anyone can say about Common Core is that "it might be better." The reasonable thing for Massachusetts school districts to do is to stick with MCAS, the proven Gold Standard, for now and wait and see how the Common Core and PARCC "concept" plays out in other states
Moira Keating June 18, 2014 at 06:44 AM
Great work Framingham School Committee p.s. Breaking news from New Jersey – “PARCC Delay Bill Passes [NJ] Assembly”: The support for this bill from both sides of the aisle indicates just how serious the issues with rushed implementation are...." https://njea.njea.org/news/2014/06/16/parcc%20delay%20bill%20passes%20assembly
Scott Wadland June 18, 2014 at 12:44 PM
Bravo to the School Committee for avoiding the rush to jump on this bandwagon. Until the school administration has a clear plan on how to switch from one test to another while still demonstrating year-over-year improvement, I think we need to stay the course.

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