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Massachusetts Drops Federal Common Core Test, Aiming At Its Own

Massachusetts' Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to develop its own standardized test by the spring of 2017, instead of adopting a federally funded Common Core Standards Initiative test. But critics say the state board didn't go far enough.

Reporting on today's 8-3 vote in favor of creating its own test, member station WBUR quotes Secretary of Education James A. Peyser saying, "today's vote gives our students, families and educators a better measure of student achievement while maintaining state control over our assessment system."

From Boston, NPR's Arun Rath reports:

"The state has been piloting a test derived from Common Core standards for two years; it's called the Partnership for Assessing College Career Readiness, or the PARCC test. It would have replaced the state's own test, which has been in use for the last 18 years.

"Instead, the state will begin developing its own assessment, which will incorporate elements of both PARCC and the old Massachusetts test.

"Of the 26 states that adopted the PARCC test, Massachusetts is now the 20th state to drop it."

The state board voted to adapt its current exam, called the MCAS, on the day before the submission deadline for a petition by a group called End Common Core Massachusetts.

State Education Secretary Peyser said the new test would a "next-generation hybrid test," as the Burlington Union reports. But the leader of the state's largest teachers union sees it differently.

Noting that Massachusetts board commissioner Mitchell Chester also chairs the governing board of the PARCC multi-state consortium, Barbara Madeloni, the president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, accused the state board of "just hiding PARCC inside MCAS," according to the Union.

In addition to the states that opted out of the Common Core testing program, residents in several large states, such as Ohio, New York, have launched movements that urge their education officials to drop out.

Those movements gained steam in recent weeks, after a survey of large school districts in the U.S. found that students were being required to take too many tests.

The findings prompted President Obama to issue a video address in which he said, "I hear from parents who rightly worry about too much testing, and from teachers who feel so much pressure to teach to a test that it takes the joy out of teaching and learning both for them and for the students. I want to fix that."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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