By Doug Page
While key details are still unknown, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) announced it's tossing out the Common Core-aligned PARCC to test its public school children in Grades 3-8 and adopting the MCAS 2.0 test from Massachusetts.
Massachusetts first rolled out MCAS 2.0 this spring as a "hybrid" test, featuring a mix of Common Core questions from the controversial PARCC exam and those unique to Massachusetts. MCAS 2.0 is viewed as a compromise between the need to administer a standardized test to continue to receive federal education funds and a way to avoid the ire and protest of parents, educators, and administrators who are staunch critics of Common Core and the PARCC test. MCAS 2.0 is being administered for the first time to 425,000 Massachusetts third through eighth graders this spring.
Massachusetts's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which oversees all K-12 public schools in Massachusetts, announced in a press release that it is in "talks [with RIDE] to use the next-generation MCAS for its students in Grades 3-8."
But a story published in Rhode Island's largest newspaper, The Providence Journal, in mid-April, reports the state's adoption of MCAS 2.0 is a done deal: "State Education Commissioner Ken Wagner announced Friday that the state is tossing out Rhode Island's widely unpopular standardized test, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and adopting the well-regarded Massachusetts test for grades three through eight."
"It's an opportunity to move to a well-respected partner," Wagner said in the story.
Further in the article, he noted: "MCAS isn't a better test. It's about a partnership with Massachusetts. We always compare ourselves to Massachusetts. Now we can actually do it."
The PARCC test, which was used to test Rhode Island public school students in Grades 3-8, was unpopular, with many parents and teachers complaining it was too long, The Providence Journal reported. More than 10,000 Rhode Island students opted out of taking the PARCC test in 2015, the newspaper said.
Details of the Ocean State's adoption of MCAS 2.0 are unknown, including the financial aspects for RIDE to use MCAS 2.0, as well as when Rhode Island will introduce the new test.