Latest Event Updates

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This site will provide information regarding the implementation of PARCC in Massachusetts schools. The site will highlight the experiences of students, teachers, administrators, technology professionals, and test developers as the PARCC assessments are introduced to schools in our state.

The information will also highlight the progress of two specific PARCC field tests happening in Burlington Public Schools and Revere Public Schools. Members of implementation teams from both districts along with students and teachers will provide details about their PARCC experiences.

Please visit the pages for educator, student, and technology questions. Discussions and comments are welcome during the PARCC trial. Each page has a comment/question box that will be monitored by members of the Massachusetts PARCC Trial groups.

Announcing: Mass PARCC Summit

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We are excited to announce a unique opportunity to learn from educators and technology practitioners who have experienced the PARCC online assessments first hand. Along with members of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, these practitioners will be leading sessions, discussions, and hands-on demonstrations to help support Massachusetts’ schools implementing or considering online PARCC assessments.

The Massachusetts PARCC Summit will be a FREE operational boot camp with sessions for school administrators, technology directors, IT professionals, data managers, student information directors, curriculum directors, and teachers. The sessions will be led by members of the Burlington and Revere Public Schools who completed extensive field tests last year, as well as ESE staff who are experts in the PARCC online assessments.

Registration is now open for this FREE event. The event will be held at Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington, Massachusetts on December 4, 2014 from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Eventbrite - Massachusetts PARCC Summit

The event schedule will be posted soon. Session topics will include:

- PARCC’s Effect on Your School
– Building Your Technology Infrastructure
– Scheduling and Staffing for Online Assessments
– Student Information and Data
– Devices: iPads, Chromebooks, MacOS, and PCs
– Proctor Caching
– Accommodations and Accessibility
– Pearson Access Updates

Burlington’s MassCUE PARCC Presentation

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MassCUE PARCC Post.001Recently members of Burlington Public Schools presented about their experience with PARCC online assessments at the 2014 MassCUE event. The MassCUE and M.A.S.S. 2014 Annual Technology Conference, co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators (MassCUE) and the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (M.A.S.S.) is held annually to connect educators from across New England in an effort to improve the use of technology in our classrooms.

Superintendent Dr. Eric Conti, Director of Technology Integration Dennis Villano, Director of Technology Bob Cunha, and Director of Student Information Josh Murphy led the session and discussed how and why Burlington implemented a PARCC online assessments trial for over 2200 students.

You can view the entire presentation and learn more about Burlington’s session at MassCUE 2014 on the BPS EdTech Team site.


Considerations for Selecting PARCC

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A recent conference call hosted by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education discussed the considerations for districts deciding to choose PARCC computer based testing for Spring 2015. The call and a detailed presentation are included in the video below.

Burlington and Revere PARCC Presentation

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The following presentation highlights some of the details about the Burlington Public Schools and Revere Public Schools PARCC Field Test.

Scheduling Test Sessions

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Creating the schedule of test sessions for the PARCC assessment requires planning and flexibility. Schools will certainly be affected by the test sessions being completed each day during the PARCC testing window. Massachusetts schools have had similar scheduling needs during MCAS testing days. School administrators realize that some parts of the day require more attention. For example, we obviously can’t remove lunch and recess from the school day to accommodate our testing schedules. Building a testing schedule that limits interupptions to instructional time is paramount.

Burlington Public Schools is testing almost 2200 students for the Performance Based Assessment and End of Year assessment. Our test sessions and schedule reflect our attempt to provide a look at testing on different devices – iPads, Chromebooks, and desktop computers. In future years, Burlington will likely test students using only their 1:1 iPad devices. This will require less testing days and cause less interruption to instructional time.

Please review our PBA and EOY schedules linked below to see how our sessions were scheduled for this year. We hope that other districts can learn from our scheduling and plan on test sessions accordingly depending on their number of students and devices. Our schedule provides a look at how testing can interrupt instructional time. This becomes a major factor when devices are limited – even more so when schools only have a computer lab as a testing option.

Burlington Public Schools PBA PARCC Schedule

Burlington Public Schools EOY PARCC Schedule


Choosing PARCC or MCAS for 2015

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As we move through the End of Year portion of the 2014 Spring Field Test, important details regarding next year’s options for testing have been provided to Massachusetts’ schools. Districts will have the choice to administer either PARCC or MCAS tests in ELA and Mathematics for students in grades 3–8 in spring 2015.

The Massachusetts DESE has released the following timeline for this decision:

Wednesday, May 14
District superintendents receive email with instructions
A pass code will be provided for registering the district’s choice through an online tool

Mid to late-May
Information sessions to assist in decision-making (see below)

May 14–June 30
District superintendents register early decision

12:00 p.m., Monday, June 30
Deadline for early decision submission

12:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 1
Deadline for decision – pending availability

Top 5 Revere PARCC Tech Takeaways

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Thank you to Jonathan Ferrara – IT Manager from Revere Public Schools – for this post Performance Based Assessment look at Revere’s Top 5 PARCC Takeaways.

After the completion of our field tests, we had a district PARCC debrief meeting. In this meeting the administrative and tech staff discussed their impressions of what we had experienced over the last few weeks. The thoughts, ideas and impressions of PARCC were flowing so we decided it would be best to document some of our takeaways from our experience with PARCC in both prep and practice.

1. Infrastructure is Essential

Districts without infrastructure will have a difficult time with this test. To clarify the word infrastructure as I mean it, it is the foundational layer of your IT environment to carry the data (bandwidth, wireless, switches). Districts can buy all of the computers, tablets and laptops they can afford, however not being able to reach the Internet over a robust infrastructure will create a bottleneck that will make testing difficult, if not impossible. So if your district hasn’t invested in infrastructure, consider doing so. You will need it for curricula beyond PARCC and it will only improve your district overall.

2. Preparation

Make sure your tech team keeps up on the changes to the PARCC software and hardware prerequisites. Just days before the test they released information about ‘disabling accelerators’ in Internet Explorer. Keeping current with the documentation allowed us to modify our configuration and be ready. The ability to centrally manage your environment when possible is essential to prepare. Determine what methods you may have in-house and research third party management if needed. It is impossible to visit every machine as changes to the testing environment are required.

3. Teachers and Students Rise to a Challenge

This item is not really a tech item, but it is something that became clear to me during the field test. The role of the teacher is constantly changing and moving from pen/paper to electronic testing methods is without question a hurdle for the greenest teacher to the seasoned veteran. Once the test began and we began to see the minor issues that popped up, the teachers sat with us to learn with us as we worked through each problem. They learned and adapted. By day 3 they were handling many of the common problems on their own allowing the tech staff to handle the new issues that manifested. As for students, I am learning that they are platform/OS agnostic. It doesn’t seem to really matter to them whether they use a PC, a laptop or tablet. I think this is especially true for the younger students. This method of testing seems to land squarely in their wheelhouse.

4. Communication is Key

The discussion amongst the teachers, administration and techs relating to PARCC was so frequent and, I hope, beneficial to all (It was to us in technology). As an IT person in the education space for 15-16 years, I have never had this level and frequency of dialogue on any other item with staff outside of IT. Understanding the test from the academic point of view truly helped us support the teachers and administration. I hope understanding the tech perspective helped them too.

5. Work with other Districts

Don’t go it alone. Work with a district that you have an existing relationship with or establish a new working relationship. Our relationship with Burlington has given us insight into different approaches in test management, testing hardware and a pool of varied and diverse expertise. A team approach is always more powerful.

Jon Ferrara
IT Manager
Revere Public Schools