Saturday, March 14, 2015

Update on test refusal and security agreements (PARCC and MCAS)

The Commissioner had a few updates of interest in his Friday afternoon letter (which will eventually be online here, but isn't yet) yesterday: 
Refusal to Take a Statewide Standardized Test:
Superintendents and principals are reminded that there is no provision in Massachusetts state law for parents to “opt out” of the annual statewide assessment program. (See MCAS and PARCC Participation Requirements, Oct. 15, 2014.) This program is an important component of the Commonwealth's public education system, and participation is required for all students enrolled in public school. The state assessments provide important feedback to families, teachers, administrators, and state policymakers as to where schools are succeeding and where schools and districts need to enhance their efforts. Legislators and taxpayers also expect an objective assessment of student and school performance in return for a very significant investment of public funds. In those districts that have chosen to give the PARCC assessment, having all students participate will allow the state to better evaluate the quality of the test.
Nevertheless, ESE knows there will be isolated instances of a student’s refusal to take the test, either of his/her own volition or at the direction of a parent. In these cases, we ask principals to encourage parents to rethink their refusal and remind them that students' and teachers' experiences will help the state decide whether PARCC is a worthwhile assessment. When a parent directs their child to refuse to take PARCC, they are forgoing their child's opportunity to contribute to ESE's evaluation of the test. We ask principals and test proctors to handle refusals with sensitivity. Students should not be pressured to take the test, nor should they be punished for not taking the test. They may sit quietly and read in the testing room, but if they are distracting others in the class who are taking the test, it would be appropriate to have them move to another location in the school with adult supervision. There is no requirement to provide formal or informal instruction to these students during the test period; having them do homework or read a book is sufficient. 
For students who refuse to take the MCAS or PARCC paper tests, no special reporting is needed. If no answer form is submitted for a student, or if a blank answer form is submitted, the student will automatically be considered absent. For students who refuse to take the PARCC online test, the test administrator will need to mark the student’s test as “complete” in the PearsonAccessnext system so that the test session can be closed. Completed online tests with no responses will also default to absent.
Thus a parent refusing is enough; the child him or herself does not need to be put on the spot.

PARCC Security Agreement for Educators:
It has come to ESE's attention that some educators who will administer PARCC have raised concerns about the PARCC Security Agreement included in the PARCC Test Administrator Manuals. As always, test administrators and other school personnel involved in the administration of state assessments are expected to follow the policies and protocols for test security and administration. Teachers, however, do not have to sign the PARCC Security Agreement in order to proctor the test.

Test administrators and other school personnel involved in test administration have an ethical and professional obligation to administer the assessments in accordance with the relevant policies and protocols whether or not the individuals sign the relevant acknowledgement form or agreement.
Thus teachers do not have to sign the security agreement. 

1 comment:

Christine said...

Thank you for posting this!