Monday, April 25, 2016

Harvard Study Finds Successful CCSS Implementation Leads to Higher Math Scores

A new study by the Center for Education Policy Research at the Harvard Graduate School of Education finds that schools and districts that have successfully implemented CCSS achieved higher scores on PARCC and Smarter Balance assessments.  Surveying a representative sample of teachers from Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Nevada, researchers found that teachers and principals have made great strides in implementing CCSS at the classroom level, making changes to lesson plans, classroom materials, and in some cases teacher evaluation systems, to "embrace" the new standards.

The study also found that "the frequency and specificity of feedback from classroom observations," professional development focused on CCSS, and "the inclusion of student performance on CCSS-aligned assessments in teacher evaluations" correlated with higher test scores on math PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments.

The full report and abstract can be found here: http://cepr.harvard.edu/files/cepr/files/teaching-higher-report.pdf?m=1456158749

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Top 5 Questions About the MA System of Accountability

Pulled from the questions we frequently hear, here are the top 5 answers to your top 5 questions about the MA system of accountability:

5. Economically disadvantaged = Free and reduced price lunch?
While low income students were formerly identified by their free and reduced price lunch status, the subgroup "Economically Disadvantaged" identifies students who participate in state-aid programs.  These programs include: MassHealth, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, foster care, homeless aid programs, and state-aid programs.

4. Economically disadvantaged = Low Income?
Its a new name and a new subgroup, but are the kids the same?  You'll find quite a bit of overlap between 2014 low income students and 2015 economically disadvantaged students.  These are similar subgroups as they both identify students of poverty.  However, the identification method is different.  Moving away from free and reduced price lunch to students participating in state-aid programs, this is a similar but not the same subgroup as the former "Low Income" designation.

3. Will Next Generation MCAS include PARCC items?
While the Next Generation MCAS will build on the previous MCAS assessments, it will include many PARCC items, as well as items specific to MA.

2. Is it true that first-year ELLs do not take MCAS/PARCC?
While first-year ELLs are not required to take the ELA MCAS/PARCC, it is still an option.  This is a decision to be made at the school-level, depending on a students' level of English proficiency.  However, first-year ELLs must take the ACCESS assessment.
However, first-year ELLs are required take the math MCAS/PARCC and science MCAS assessments.

1. Why do first-year ELL MCAS/PARCC count toward a school or district's accountability?
First-year ELL MCAS or PARCC scores, in any content area, do not count toward a school or district's CPI or SGP calculations. While first-year ELLs are required to take the math MCAS/PARCC and science MCAS assessments, their test scores are used for diagnostic purposes only, and are not included in summary results or state/federal accountability data.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Next Generation MCAS Testing: Update

Next Generation MCAS testing is currently being developed.  This revised assessment will incorporate existing MCAS items, items that MA and other states developed through PARCC, and items unique to the Next Generation MCAS.  More information on the progress for developing this new generation can be found here.


  • Next Generation ELA and Math MCAS will be administered in Spring 2017 with grades 3-8.
  • Grade 10 ELA and math assessments will likely transition to a similar test in 2018, while the existing MCAS will remain a graduation requirement through the class of 2019.  The existing MCAS will continue to be offered as a retest through at least 2021.
  • Science and technology/engineering testing will transition to align with the recently approved science frameworks, and will move to a next generation, computer-based assessment over the next several years.
  • Computer based testing will be phased in throughout the Commonwealth over the next two years.
  • All testing state-wide will be computer-based by 2019.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Preparing for the Spring 2016 PARCC Assessment


PARCC added new online resources to help teachers and students prepare for this year's summative assessment, as well as understand the changes from the 2015 assessment.  Check out