Principal’s Weekly Update

Dear Families,

This year all third, fourth, and fifth grade students will take the new statewide assessment, MCAS Next Generation. This will replace PARCC, which students took for the past two years. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is requiring that all grade 4 students take the Computer-Based Test (CBT) with the goal of students in all grades taking the CBT by the year 2019. At Memorial-Spaulding, we elected to have students in grades 3 and 5 take the Paper-Based Test (PBT) this year.

With the adoption of another new test, we have been thoughtfully preparing students for success. We believe that the high-quality instruction we provide students each day is the best way we can prepare them for external assessments. That said the MCAS Next Generation test format and testing situation are different from students’ routine experiences and we have been working to familiarize students with the test format, the types of questions, and the vocabulary. We have taken this approach for test preparation, as we do not want to “teach to the test” and/or create unnecessary stress or anxiety.

Over the past few weeks, teachers in grades 3, 4, and 5 have presented practice tests to students and posed guiding questions to allow students to learn about and explore the test. Examples of guiding questions include:

  • What types of questions do you see?
  • What are you being asked to do?
  • What words do you notice?
  • Do you see any words that other kids might not know?
  • What do you notice as you tried to record/enter your answer?

After students had time to explore the tests, teachers spent some time in class teaching strategies to help students feel comfortable and confident during the testing situation. Strategies included reading test directions, unpacking questions, and using a reference sheet. Teachers have reassured students that throughout the year they have learned the content to help them be successful. To minimize stress, teachers will also share with their classes that the results of the assessment are used for multiple purposes such as, planning for growth in future years and determining if additional shifts in our curriculum are necessary.

Thank you for your continued support. If you have questions, please do hesitate to ask.

Upcoming MCAS testing dates: English/Language Arts – (Grade 3 = 4/3, 4/6, 4/7) (Grade 4 = 4/4, 4/5, 4/6) (Grade 5 = 4/3, 4/5, 4/7)