March brings the first round of   MCAS testing for our third through fifth graders. MCAS refers to a series of tests given to public school students in Massachusetts that measure students’ progress toward meeting state educational standards. Standards are statements of what students should know and be able to do by the time they reach a specific grade level. These standards are spelled out in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. MCAS tests are based on the Curriculum Frameworks and are given in the following areas: English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, Science and Technology/Engineering [5th grade only]. The tests consist of multiple-choice, open response, and short-answer questions, in addition to a writing prompt for the ELA long composition for our 4th graders.

The MCAS testing begins the week of March 19th.  You’ll find the complete schedule on the district and school website and through weekly messages from your child’s teacher.

Here are some helpful tips to make the testing successful and positive for your child:

  • Make sure that your child  is well rested and eats breakfast.
  • See that your child  arrives at school on time and is relaxed.
  • Comfort counts. Send a sweater if it’s a cool day. Dress in layers for a warm day.
  • Encourage your child to do the best work possible and to have a positive attitude.
  • Assure your child that the test is only one measure of academic performance.
  • Emphasize  that test scores do not determine a person’s worth.
  • Remind your child not to get stuck on any one item.
  • Talk about the test in a positive way.
  • Remind your child that the MCAS is designed according to the skills the teacher has taught.

And parents remember…this is only one snapshot of your child’s learning. No single test provides us with a complete profile of a child’s learning.

You will receive MCAS results in the fall and we’ll be happy to assist you with understanding the parent report at that time. We will look closely at the growth model when results are reported in the fall. The “growth model” is a method of measuring individual student progress on MCAS by tracking the scores of the same students from one year to the next. Traditional student assessment reports tell you about a student’s performance in a single year, whereas growth reports tell you how much change or “growth” there has been in performance from one year to the next.

Click on to this tutorial to understand the model better.

Final word for now about MCAS: Contact your child’s teacher if you sense your child is experiencing excessive anxiety related to the testing.  Teachers will work with families to  alleviate the stress a child might feel. You may contact me as well if you have any questions.


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