Over the past few weeks the Westford School Committee has been deciding whether it will become an early adopting district for a new assessment test to fit the new Common Core standards.
A decision won’t come until later this month, but one group of parents is doing what they can to make sure that decision will be an emphatic “no.”
A petition asking the School Committee and Superintendent Bill Olsen to “Pause PARCC” has appeared online, spearheaded by a group of parents from Westford and parents opposed to the PARCC seeking to influence Westford’s decision.
Signatory Meridith Trieble has also spoken out to the board at several recent meetings against Westford choosing to use the PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a year before Westford will be required to use it instead of the current Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test, better known as the MCAS.
“Moving to PARCC now will require an unknown amount of time, money and effort,” says Trieble. “All things that are best used on the students, not moving onto a test that might or might not be the future of standardized testing in our state.”
Currently set to become the new standardized test in 15 states, including Massachusetts, in the autumn of 2015, the PARCC has drawn the ire of school districts throughout Massachusetts for reasons such as new technological infrastructure that eventually will be required for the entirely online test.
Another reason is the feeling that implementation of PARCC will impact local control of education, a fear voiced on the petition by Robbie Robbins.
“Education should be localized, not federalized,” said Robbins. “Why should Massachusetts, the undisputed frontrunner in American education in every measure, give our state standards and assessments in place of a standard shared by inferior systems nationwide?”
Supporters of the PARCC’s early adoption have cited Massachusetts’ strong likelihood to eventually enact the test, giving the early adopter districts added experience on how to administer the test and additional statistical analysis that can be used on student progress.
They also cite similar fears opponents of the MCAS had when it was rolled out, as well as the all-online component mirroring larger trends in society’s migration to doing more things with computers versus the pencil and paper of the MCAS.