Metro

Many Mass. school districts opting for PARCC over MCAS

Slightly more than half of the 362 public school districts across Massachusetts with third- through eighth-graders will test those students this month with the new PARCC exam, which is in line to replace the MCAS as the state’s test of choice for student achievement.

Meanwhile, about a quarter of the 295 public districts with at least one high school will use the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, assessment for students in grades 9 and 11 this year.

Computer-based PARCC testing began Monday; the paper and pencil version will be administered starting next week.

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The exam, designed to align with the Common Core curriculum that is being implemented around the country, will provide a new way to compare the performance of students on a state-by-state basis. For students, it requires more critical thinking than other tests have measured. Thought by some to be harder than MCAS, it also measures college readiness, and, if the state chooses it to replace MCAS, it will be used as a high school graduation requirement, starting with the class of 2020 at the earliest.

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It’s been up to school districts to decide whether to adopt the exam this spring.

Last year, after state education officials oversaw a field test of the PARCC exam at just over 1,000 schools around the state, each public school district chose whether to administer MCAS or PARCC exams in English language arts and mathematics.

All districts will continue to use MCAS Alternate Assessment exams as well as MCAS exams for science and technology/engineering for grades 5, 8, and high school.

The state’s three largest school districts — Boston, Springfield, and Worcester — were able to choose on a school-by-school basis. And the three high school MCAS exams — grade 10 English language arts, grade 10 mathematics, and high school science and technology/engineering — will continue to be a graduation requirement through at least the class of 2019.

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Half of grade schools, quarter of high schools opt for PARCC over MCAS
How standardized tests are being administered in public school districts around the state this year
Spring 2015 Total public districts (including charters) PARCC districts PARCC students MCAS districts MCAS students (approx)
Grades 3-8 362 197 220,000 165 207,000
PARCC for Grade 9 and/or 11 (optional) 295 71 N/A N/A N/A
DATA: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Note: There are 408 public school districts, including charter districts. A total of 362 of the districts serve students in grades 3-8, while 46 of the districts serve only high school students. There are 295 districts with at least one high school.

Matt Rocheleau/Globe Staff
PARCC has its critics. Some argue that the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System is the better choice, and superior to PARCC. Still, others contend schools should do away with standardized testing altogether, saying the exams do not always accurately measure how students are performing and whether they will have academic and career success in the future.

The state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to vote this fall on whether the state should adopt PARCC at public and charter schools statewide.

School districts administering PARCC on paper vs. on computer
How PARCC exams are being administered in public school districts around the state this year
PARCC Details PARCC Districts Paper-based exam Computer-based exam Mix of paper and computer
Grades 3-8 197 29% 50% 20%
Grade9 and/or 11 (optional 71 21% 73% 6%
DATA: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Matt Rocheleau/Globe Staff

For a complete breakdown of which tests are being administered at each public school district and charter school around the state, see below.

Massachusetts schools using PARCC, MCAS, or both in 2015
A look at how standardized tests are being administered in public school districts around the state this year
Organization Name Grades 3–8 ELA and Math Assessment for 2015 If PARCC, Mode of Administration (Online/Paper) Optional PARCC Grade 8 Algebra I Optional PARCC Testing for Grade 9 and/or 11
Abington MCAS
Acton MCAS
Acushnet PARCC Paper
Agawam MCAS
Amesbury MCAS
Amherst MCAS
Andover PARCC Online
Arlington MCAS
Ashland PARCC Online grades 9 & 11
Attleboro PARCC Both Yes grade 9
Auburn PARCC Online Yes grades 9 & 11
Avon PARCC Online grades 9 & 11
Barnstable PARCC Both Yes
Bedford PARCC Both
Belchertown PARCC Paper
Bellingham PARCC Online
Belmont PARCC Paper Yes
Berkley MCAS
Berlin PARCC Online
Beverly PARCC Online grades 9 & 11
Billerica PARCC Both Yes
Boston* Both Both grades 9 & 11
Bourne PARCC Both
Boxborough MCAS
Boxford PARCC Online
Boylston PARCC Online
Braintree PARCC Both
Brewster MCAS
Brimfield PARCC Online
Brockton PARCC Both
Brookfield MCAS
Brookline MCAS
Burlington PARCC Online
Cambridge MCAS
Canton MCAS
Carlisle PARCC Online
Carver PARCC Online
Chelmsford MCAS
Chelsea PARCC Online
Chicopee PARCC Both Yes
Clarksburg PARCC Both
Clinton PARCC Online
Cohasset MCAS
Concord PARCC Online Yes
Conway MCAS
Danvers PARCC Both
Dartmouth PARCC Paper Yes grades 9 & 11
Dedham MCAS
Deerfield MCAS
Douglas PARCC Online
Dover MCAS
Dracut MCAS
Duxbury MCAS
East Bridgewater MCAS
Eastham PARCC Online
Easthampton PARCC Both
East Longmeadow PARCC Paper Yes
Easton MCAS
Edgartown PARCC Online Yes
Erving PARCC Paper
Everett PARCC Both grade 9
Fairhaven PARCC Online
Fall River MCAS
Falmouth PARCC Online grades 9 & 11
Fitchburg PARCC Both grades 9 & 11
Florida PARCC Online
Foxborough PARCC Both
Framingham PARCC Both
Franklin PARCC Online
Gardner PARCC Online Yes
Georgetown MCAS
Gloucester PARCC Both
Gosnold MCAS
Grafton MCAS
Granby MCAS
Greenfield PARCC Both
Hadley MCAS
Halifax MCAS
Hancock PARCC Paper
Hanover PARCC Both Yes grades 9 & 11
Harvard MCAS
Hatfield MCAS grade 9
Haverhill PARCC Both Yes grades 9 & 11
Hingham MCAS
Holbrook MCAS
Holland PARCC Online
Holliston MCAS
Holyoke MCAS
Hopedale MCAS
Hopkinton MCAS
Hudson MCAS
Hull PARCC Online Yes
Ipswich MCAS
Kingston MCAS
Lanesborough MCAS
Lawrence MCAS
Lee MCAS
Leicester PARCC Online
Lenox MCAS
Leominster PARCC Paper grades 9 & 11
Leverett PARCC Paper
Lexington MCAS
Lincoln MCAS
Littleton MCAS
Longmeadow MCAS
Lowell MCAS
Ludlow MCAS
Lunenburg MCAS
Lynn MCAS
Lynnfield MCAS
Malden PARCC Online grade 9
Mansfield MCAS
Marblehead PARCC Paper
Marion PARCC Online
Marlborough MCAS
Marshfield MCAS
Mashpee PARCC Online Yes
Mattapoisett PARCC Online
Maynard PARCC Both Yes grade 9
Medfield MCAS
Medford MCAS
Medway MCAS
Melrose PARCC Paper
Methuen MCAS
Middleborough MCAS
Middleton PARCC Online
Milford PARCC Paper Yes
Millbury PARCC Both
Millis MCAS
Milton PARCC Online grades 9 & 11
Monson PARCC Online
Nahant PARCC Paper
Nantucket PARCC Online
Natick PARCC Online Yes
Needham MCAS
New Bedford PARCC Paper grades 9 & 11
Newburyport MCAS
Newton PARCC Both Yes
Norfolk MCAS
North Adams MCAS
Northampton MCAS
North Andover MCAS
North Attleborough MCAS
Northborough MCAS
Northbridge MCAS
North Brookfield MCAS
North Reading PARCC Both grade 9
Norton MCAS
Norwell PARCC Online Yes grades 9 & 11
Norwood PARCC Both Yes
Oak Bluffs PARCC Online Yes
Orange PARCC Online
Orleans MCAS
Oxford MCAS
Palmer MCAS
Peabody MCAS
Pelham PARCC Paper
Pembroke PARCC Paper Yes grades 9 & 11
Petersham PARCC Online
Pittsfield PARCC Online grade 9
Plainville PARCC Online
Plymouth PARCC Online Yes grades 9 & 11
Plympton MCAS
Provincetown MCAS
Quincy MCAS
Randolph MCAS
Reading PARCC Online Yes
Revere PARCC Online Yes grades 9 & 11
Richmond PARCC Paper
Rochester PARCC Online
Rockland PARCC Both
Rockport PARCC Paper
Rowe PARCC Online
Salem MCAS
Sandwich MCAS
Saugus MCAS
Savoy PARCC Online
Scituate PARCC Online Yes grades 9 & 11
Seekonk PARCC Online
Sharon PARCC Online Yes
Sherborn MCAS
Shrewsbury PARCC Both
Shutesbury PARCC Paper
Somerset MCAS
Somerville MCAS
Southampton MCAS
Southborough MCAS
Southbridge MCAS
South Hadley PARCC Online Yes
Springfield** Both Both grades 9 & 11
Stoneham PARCC Paper
Stoughton PARCC Both grades 9 & 11
Sturbridge PARCC Paper
Sudbury PARCC Paper Yes
Sunderland MCAS
Sutton MCAS
Swampscott MCAS
Swansea PARCC Online
Taunton PARCC Both
Tewksbury PARCC Paper Yes grades 9 & 11
Tisbury PARCC Online
Topsfield PARCC Paper
Truro PARCC Paper
Tyngsborough PARCC Online Yes
Uxbridge MCAS
Wakefield PARCC Online Yes grades 9 & 11
Wales PARCC Online
Walpole MCAS
Waltham MCAS
Ware PARCC Both Yes
Wareham MCAS grades 9 & 11
Watertown PARCC Paper
Wayland PARCC Online Yes
Webster PARCC Paper grades 9 & 11
Wellesley MCAS
Wellfleet PARCC Online
Westborough PARCC Both Yes
West Boylston MCAS
West Bridgewater PARCC Online Yes
Westfield MCAS
Westford PARCC Both Yes
Westhampton MCAS
Weston PARCC Online Yes
Westport MCAS
West Springfield PARCC Both Yes grades 9 & 11
Westwood PARCC Online
Weymouth PARCC Both Yes
Whately MCAS
Williamsburg MCAS
Williamstown MCAS
Wilmington MCAS
Winchendon PARCC Online Yes grades 9 & 11
Winchester MCAS
Winthrop MCAS
Woburn PARCC Both Yes
Worcester*** Both Both Yes grades 9 & 11
Wrentham MCAS
Northampton-Smith Vocational Agricultural Does not offer gr. 3–8
Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School (District) PARCC Paper
Alma del Mar Charter School (District) PARCC Both
Excel Academy Charter (District) PARCC Paper
Boston Green Academy Horace Mann Charter School (District) PARCC Online grades 9 & 11
Academy Of the Pacific Rim Charter Public (District) PARCC Online grade 9
Four Rivers Charter Public (District) PARCC Online grades 9 & 11
Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public (District) PARCC Paper Yes
Amesbury Academy Charter Public (District) MCAS
Boston Preparatory Charter Public (District) PARCC Online grades 9 & 11
Bridge Boston Charter School (District) PARCC Paper
Christa McAuliffe Regional Charter Public (District) PARCC Online Yes
Smith Leadership Academy Charter Public (District) MCAS
Benjamin Banneker Charter Public (District) PARCC Paper
Boston Day and Evening Academy Charter (District) Does not offer gr. 3–8
Community Day Charter Public School - Gateway (District) MCAS
Barnstable Community Horace Mann Charter Public (District) MCAS
Brooke Charter School Roslindale (District) PARCC Paper Yes
KIPP Academy Lynn Charter (District) PARCC Online grade 9
Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter (District) MCAS grades 9 & 11
Community Day Charter Public School - R. Kingman Webster (District) MCAS
Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter (District) MCAS
Innovation Academy Charter (District) PARCC Paper Yes
Community Charter School of Cambridge (District) PARCC Paper
City On A Hill Charter Public (District) Does not offer gr. 3–8 grade 9
Codman Academy Charter Public (District) PARCC Online grades 9 & 11
Conservatory Lab Charter (District) PARCC Online
Community Day Charter Public School - Prospect (District) MCAS
Sabis International Charter (District) PARCC Online
Brooke Charter School Mattapan (District) PARCC Paper Yes
Neighborhood House Charter (District) PARCC Online
Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public (District) MCAS
Foxborough Regional Charter (District) PARCC Online Yes
Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter PARCC Online Yes
Boston Collegiate Charter (District) PARCC Paper grade 9
Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public (District) MCAS
Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers (Horace Mann Charter) (District) Does not offer gr. 3–8 grade 9
Holyoke Community Charter (District) PARCC Online
Lawrence Family Development Charter (District) MCAS
Hill View Montessori Charter Public (District) PARCC Online
Lowell Community Charter Public (District) PARCC Online
Brooke Charter School East Boston (District) PARCC Paper
Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter (District) Does not offer gr. 3–8
Excel Academy Charter School - Boston II (District) PARCC Paper
Excel Academy Charter School - Chelsea (District) PARCC Paper
KIPP Academy Boston Charter School (District) PARCC Online
Marblehead Community Charter Public (District) MCAS
MATCH Community Day Charter Public School (District) PARCC Paper
Marthas Vineyard Charter (District) PARCC Online
Salem Community Charter School (District) Does not offer gr. 3–8
MA Academy for Math and Science Does not offer gr. 3–8
MATCH Charter Public School (District) PARCC Paper grade 9
Mystic Valley Regional Charter (District) MCAS
North Central Charter Essential (District) PARCC Paper Yes grades 9 & 11
Dorchester Collegiate Academy Charter (District) MCAS
Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter (District) PARCC Paper
Francis W. Parker Charter Essential (District) MCAS
Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public (District) MCAS
UP Academy Charter School of Boston (District) PARCC Paper
Boston Renaissance Charter Public (District) PARCC Paper
River Valley Charter (District) MCAS
Rising Tide Charter Public (District) MCAS
Roxbury Preparatory Charter (District) PARCC Paper Yes
Salem Academy Charter (District) PARCC Paper grades 9 & 11
Seven Hills Charter Public (District) PARCC Online
Prospect Hill Academy Charter (District) PARCC Both
South Shore Charter Public (District) PARCC Online grades 9 & 11
Sturgis Charter Public (District) Does not offer gr. 3–8
Atlantis Charter (District) MCAS
Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence (District) MCAS
Phoenix Charter Academy (District) Does not offer gr. 3–8
Pioneer Charter School of Science (District) PARCC Paper grades 9 & 11
Global Learning Charter Public (District) MCAS
Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter(District) MCAS
Veritas Preparatory Charter School (District) PARCC Paper
Hampden Charter School of Science (District) PARCC Paper Yes grades 9 & 11
Acton-Boxborough MCAS
Adams-Cheshire MCAS
Amherst-Pelham MCAS
Ashburnham-Westminster PARCC Online Yes grades 9 & 11
Athol-Royalston MCAS
Ayer Shirley School District PARCC Online grade 9
Berkshire Hills PARCC Online Yes
Berlin-Boylston PARCC Online
Blackstone-Millville MCAS
Bridgewater-Raynham MCAS grades 9 & 11
Chesterfield-Goshen MCAS
Central Berkshire PARCC Both
Concord-Carlisle Does not offer gr. 3–8
Dennis-Yarmouth PARCC Both grades 9 & 11
Dighton-Rehoboth MCAS
Dover-Sherborn MCAS
Dudley-Charlton Reg MCAS
Nauset MCAS
Farmington River Reg MCAS
Freetown-Lakeville MCAS
Frontier MCAS
Gateway PARCC Online Yes
Groton-Dunstable PARCC Online
Gill-Montague PARCC Online
Hamilton-Wenham MCAS
Hampden-Wilbraham MCAS
Hampshire MCAS
Hawlemont MCAS
King Philip PARCC Online Yes
Lincoln-Sudbury Does not offer gr. 3–8
Manchester Essex Regional MCAS
Martha's Vineyard Does not offer gr. 3–8
Masconomet MCAS
Mendon-Upton MCAS
Monomoy Regional School District PARCC Online grades 9 & 11
Mount Greylock Does not offer gr. 3–8
Mohawk Trail MCAS
Narragansett MCAS
Nashoba MCAS
New Salem-Wendell PARCC Paper
Northboro-Southboro Does not offer gr. 3–8
North Middlesex MCAS
Old Rochester PARCC Online Yes
Pentucket PARCC Paper Yes
Pioneer Valley PARCC Online
Quabbin MCAS grades 9 & 11
Ralph C Mahar PARCC Online grades 9 & 11
Silver Lake MCAS
Somerset Berkley Regional School District Does not offer gr. 3–8
Southern Berkshire MCAS
Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District MCAS
Spencer-E Brookfield MCAS
Tantasqua MCAS
Triton PARCC Paper
Up-Island Regional PARCC Online Yes
Wachusett MCAS
Quaboag Regional PARCC Online
Whitman-Hanson PARCC Online Yes grade 9
Assabet Valley Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8 grades 9 & 11
Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Blue Hills Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8 grade 9
Bristol-Plymouth Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Cape Cod Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8 grade 9
Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School District Does not offer gr. 3–8
Franklin County Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Greater Fall River Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8 grades 9 & 11
Greater Lawrence Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Greater Lowell Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
South Middlesex Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8 grades 9 & 11
Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8 grades 9 & 11
Northern Berkshire Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Nashoba Valley Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8 grades 9 & 11
Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
South Shore Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8 grades 9 & 11
Southern Worcester County Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Tri County Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8 grade 9
Upper Cape Cod Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8 grades 9 & 11
Whittier Regional Vocational Technical Does not offer gr. 3–8
Bristol County Agricultural Does not offer gr. 3–8
Norfolk County Agricultural Does not offer gr. 3–8
Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School (District) Does not offer gr. 3–8
Baystate Academy Charter Public School (District) PARCC Paper
Lowell Collegiate Charter School (District) PARCC Paper
City on a Hill Charter Public School II (District) Does not offer gr. 3–8 grade 9
UP Academy Charter School of Dorchester (District) MCAS
Pioneer Charter School of Science II (PCSS-II) (District) PARCC Paper grade 9
City On A Hill Charter Public New Bedford (District) Does not offer gr. 3–8 grade 9
Argosy Collegiate Charter School (District) PARCC Online
Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual District PARCC Online Yes
DATA: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

* The three largest districts in the state – Boston, Springfield, Worcester – had the option to make decisions on a school-by-school basis (all other districts made a district-wide decision). Most Boston public schools will be administering PARCC tests in grades 3–8, with the exception of its Level 5 schools which will administer MCAS tests.

** In Springfield, 29 schools will be administering PARCC tests in grades 3–8, and 15 schools will administer MCAS tests in grades 3–8.

*** In Worcester, 22 schools will be administering PARCC tests in grades 3–8, and 17 schools will administer MCAS tests in grades 3–8.

Matt Rocheleau/Globe Staff

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Weiss: Can the tide turn against standardized testing?

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele