Greenfield school board misses standardized test deadline

GREENFIELD — Greenfield school officials may no longer be able to decide whether to use MCAS or PARCC standardized tests next year.

School districts statewide have been picking which test to take — the old Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Systems exams or the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers — for spring 2015.

But the Greenfield School Committee missed the deadline by which to decide.

The new PARCC is a national exam designed to test the Common Core Standards, which the state adopted in 2010.

As part of the state’s two-year test drive of the new, more rigorous PARCC, districts would not be penalized this year for poor scores if they test drive the new system. If the state chooses PARCC, all schools will be held accountable for scores in spring 2016.

Districts were supposed to tell the state by June 30 if they wanted to change for next year, but the Greenfield school committee missed that deadline.

School Committee Chairperson Maryelen Calderwood said she did not know why the School Committee did not vote by that summer deadline.

“We should not have missed it,” she said.

Now, the School Committee can indicate its preference by Oct. 1, which leaves the decision in the state’s hands but allows a possibility of change. Or the committee can choose not to vote on the subject, in which case Greenfield would automatically be assigned to MCAS.

Calderwood noted an issue that could impact what test Greenfield uses is the amount of transition the department is undergoing right now. Greenfield schools are implementing the new teacher evaluations this year as part of Race to the Top funding, Calderwood said. Some teachers and administrators are being trained this summer. The new Superintendent Jordana Harper has also been transitioning into her new role this summer.

“There are a lot of things that need to get done in a short period of time and we’re in a lot of transition,” said Calderwood, who has previously stated she did not support switching to PARCC.

The school committee held a public hearing in July to get students, teachers and residents’ opinion, but only a handful attended.

Many of the people who spoke weren’t concerned what standardized test students would take this spring, but who made the test.

The few parents and teachers at the hearing said they did not trust Pearson, the corporation that makes many of the text books and designed PARCC.

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