PARCC at Peirce

PARCC at Peirce

Dear Peirce Families,

In May, our students will join elementary students across Newton in the PARCC tests in Reading and Math.  Last year, Peirce was one of the 11 schools to try the computer-based PARCC test, while 4 schools (Angier, Lincoln-Eliot, Mason-Rice, and Ward) participated in the paper-and-pencil version, which was more similar to the MCAS exams. This year, all 15 schools will use the paper-and-pencil version. We discovered that the testing experience was quite different depending on the mode, and students with computer-based testing scored lower than they have historically scored on MCAS, especially in Third Grade. We are pleased to use the paper-and-pencil version this year and avoid the technical difficulties for both children and adults that were a part of the computer-based testing experience.   We also expect it will more closely correlate with the paper-and-pencil assessments we give throughout the year that are tied to our curriculum. The state, having decided to discontinue PARCC testing after this year, is working on a new version of MCAS that will be introduced in 2017 and will be tied closely to our curriculum standards.

In the past, we have been able to use MCAS data to help us identify areas of strength and areas for growth, and we have found a strong correlation between MCAS scores and our school/district assessment data (e.g. Benchmark Assessments and End-of-Unit Math Assessments).  We always use Third Grade scores as a baseline and seek growth for each cohort during their Fourth and Fifth Grade years.  Our goal is for all students to meet or exceed Proficiency, indicating they are on track for strong academic success in Middle School and High School.  Although our students typically score very well in the aggregate, we, like many other schools, have a clear achievement gap between students who are identified as “high needs” (English Language Learners, Low-Income, or Special Education) and all other students. In order to reduce this achievement gap, we have created and expanded learning opportunities for differentiated instruction, including Stretch Your Brain blocks at each grade level, intervention from Early Literacy Aides, and our Co-taught class in Fifth Grade. At Peirce and throughout the system, we are seeking to reduce the correlation between a “high needs” designation and under performance on state assessments while boosting the performance of all students to the next level.

For more information about MCAS/PARCC scores at Peirce and how they compare to average scores in Newton and Massachusetts, please see the following resource from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:  http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/general.aspx?topNavId=1&orgcode=02070100&orgtypecode=6&.  This tool is also helpful for identifying schools that are most similar in terms of student population, including school size and percentage of students in high needs groups.  This tool has historically picked Zervas as one of the schools most similar to Peirce.

With best wishes,
Mark Chitty, Principal PARCC at Peirce

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