(WGGB/WSHM) -- As of right now, schools in Massachusetts are planning for spring 2021 MCAS testing.
We spoke with area superintendents to get their thoughts on the decision to continue standardized testing.
“It’s a lot of testing at a time when instructional time is at a premium,” said Westfield Public School Supt. Stefan Czaporowski
The latest news from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education indicates that schools should plan for spring 2021 MCAS testing in grades three through eight to take place in April and May.
Superintendents that Western Mass News spoke with said they have concerns.
“We’ll be prepared should we have to administer the MCAS...I certainly think to use it for accountability at this juncture would be very foolish and I’d say just about every superintendent would argue that,” said Springfield Public School Supt. Dan Warwick.
Czaporowski added, “We have concerns certainly because we are in a hybrid model…About 30 percent of our students are fully remote, so how would they take the test? They are going to have to come into school to take the test and the problem is their parents have opted not to send their students to school.”
Czaporowski said he’s worried parents may opt their children out of the test, which would have a negative impact of the overall report for the district.
Another concern is getting students to testing locations.
“Right now, with only being able to fill our buses with one-third capacity, we don’t have any additional spaces on our buses to bring those students to school,” Czaporowski noted.
Warwick told Western Mass News officials should consider an online-based exam.
“If we are still doing our schools remotely, we should be allowed to administer the MCAS remotely at that time. I wouldn’t bring kids into school against the advice of the health commissioner if we are still in remote education at that time,” Warwick added.
However, an online-based test could be problematic and raise some concerns.
“There are specific secure platforms that need to be used and how would that be put on to a home. If a student was using a device at their house, we wouldn’t be able to put that software onto their device. We can only put it on our devices,” Czaporowski noted.
In light of the pandemic and in recognition that schools may not be able to test at many students at the same time, DESE is providing the following flexibilities for the years testing.
Longer testing windows, so districts have time to test students who may be in-school on certain days due to hybrid learning or other learning arrangements.
Suspending the requirement for concurrent testing on specific test dates for high schools.
An initial schedule was released to help schools and districts plan.
ELA and mathematics testing will be administered in January and May.
Retesting for students in grades 11 and 12 and first-time testing for students in grade 10 will take place in May.
DESE officials said conditions for the MCAS may change because of the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think that spending the time on structured learning time would be a better use of time, but if they go forward with MCAS, we are preparing to administer it,” Warwick said.
In order for the MCAS to be cancelled or altered, both the state and federal government would have to approve any changes.