Worcester teachers call for freeze on high-stakes testing; PARCC still raising questions - T&G

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Educational Association of Worcester calls on School Committee to temporarily halt standardized testing, demonstrating its undermining of educational quality and equity in public schools. Sample resolution opposing ‪#‎highstakestesting is posted at massteacher.org/testing No Parccing

The Educational Association of Worcester resolution, which association president Leonard Zalauskas on Tuesday said it had requested be placed on the School Committee’s next agenda, seeks a moratorium on any standardized testing used by the state to make “major decisions affecting individual students, educators, schools and districts.”

The proclamation further states that “the overreliance on high-stakes and standardized testing in state and federal accountability systems is undermining educational quality and equity in U.S. public schools by hampering educators’ efforts to focus on the broad range of learning experiences that promote the innovation, creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and deep subject matter knowledge that will allow students to thrive in a democracy and increasingly global society.”

The EAW’s proposal comes just as the lightning rod for those frustrations – the PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, test – wraps up a statewide spring rollout. The results of the rollout will be a factor in the state board of education’s decision this fall whether to stick with the test over the MCAS going forward.

In many ways, the timed, computer-based PARCC assessment, which was developed by a consortium of states using federal money, is still an enigma to parents, teachers and even administrators.

Because of security protocols, “we’re not allowed to look at the (testing) items,” said Worcester Superintendent Melinda J. Boone, who said school officials instead have had to rely on direct feedback from students who have taken the exam.

In Worcester, which was allowed by the state to offer both the MCAS and PARCC tests this spring, slightly more than 20 schools took the PARCC, said the district’s chief academic officer, Marco Rodrigues.

Like the EAW, many parents, teachers and school officials want the state to take even more of a step back from the overall testing culture in Massachusetts, which they argue has become too infatuated with standardized evaluation at the expense of classroom teaching. Worcester School Committee member Tracy O’Connell Novick argues that trend is at odds with the state’s own laws, which prescribe a more broad-based approach to testing.