As a follow-up to the On the Desktop, ESE sent to superintendents on April 1, 2016,ESE would like to clarify a point about students' participation in statewide standardized tests. Massachusetts' accountability system is set up to encourage high participation rates (if it weren't, the school's results would not reflect school-wide achievement). If fewer than 95 percent of a school's students take the statewide assessment, the school cannot be designated a Level 1 school. If fewer than 90 percent of a school's students take the assessment, that school, regardless of its test scores, can earn a designation no higher than Level 3. This is true whether a district takes PARCC or MCAS. The state's policy of holding schools harmless based on PARCC results in 2015-16 does not apply to cases in which participation falls below 95 percent.This is a change from last year, which was considered unique as the state's first operational year of PARCC testing.
The degree to which this makes a difference in anyone's decision making will, of course, depend on what they think of the state accountability system, as I described last year and the year before.
As I always say to parents who ask about or cite accountability levels: can you explain how they're calculated?