Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Information on Next-Generation MCAS Test

This spring, students across Massachusetts in Grades 3-8 will take the next-generation MCAS test for the first time.  Students in Billerica will participate in the test in a computer-based environment, and the format is different from years past.  To help explain these changes, Assistant Superintendent Dede Galdston made the following presentation at Monday night's School Committee meeting:

Aside from the computer-based environment, the other major changes are as follows:
  • New question types (e.g., 2-point multiple choice, multiple select, technology enhanced, etc.)
  • Writing at all grades within the ELA test
  • Math tool kits, including calculators, imbedded within computer-based environment
  • Technology enhanced math questions (equation editors, point plotting, histogram items, etc.)
  • Universal accessibility features for all students
Please be aware that the Grade 10 MCAS is remaining unchanged at this time, and is not scheduled to move to the next-generation assessment as a graduation requirement until the Class of 2021 (current Grade 8 students).

As a final note about MCAS, please know that although MCAS performance is important, it is only one of many measurements that we use to let us know how well our students are learning, and what we can do to help drive improvement.  Our goal, in every classroom across the district, is to teach to the standards - the expectations of what students should know and be able to do.  Our goal is never to teach to a test.  It is our strong belief that if we focus on helping students meet (and exceed) standards, they will perform well no matter what assessment we place in front of them.  

That being said, students will have opportunities as we approach this spring to practice with the new MCAS, but only to ensure that what MCAS is measuring is students' real abilities and is not influenced by their unfamiliarity with a new testing format.  As more resources become available in the coming months, we will share them with the community.

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