HARVARD -- The School Committee voted on Tuesday to revert to MCAS testing for next school year.
Superintendent Joe Connelly recommended the move, arguing in a report to the committee that there were complications with the PARCC field test this year.
Last year, the Harvard school district was one of 300 to first try out the PARCC field assessments throughout the state.
PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, consists of a number of states and provides testing that fits with the Common Core State Standards.
Massachusetts just wrapped up its first year in a two-year pilot test for the PARCC assessments. In Harvard, randomly chosen students in seventh and eighth grade took math and English PARCC tests this year.
For the upcoming school year, the state education department asked school districts to choose whether they wanted to use the PARCC or MCAS assessments for grades 3-8.
Connelly also argued that the state has not yet officially approved PARCC to replace MCAS, which tenth graders still have to pass in certain areas in order to graduate.
"It is felt if we wait until 2016 the administration of PARCC will have little or no difficulties," he wrote in his report.
MCAS testing begins in the third grade. Students in the 10th grade must pass the test in English, math, and science and technology areas in order to graduate. That sophomore graduation requirement will remain with at least this year's eighth grade class.
Bromfield Principal Jim O'Shea argued that MCAS is still a high-stakes test for tenth graders.
"The state's going to make a determination next year," he said. "Why switch when nothing is guaranteed?"
The district received largely positive reviews from teachers through the annual TELL Massachusetts survey.
Overall, 100 percent of the Hildreth Elementary School teachers who responded said they agreed that the school is a good place to work and learn. For Bromfield, about 92 percent of teachers said so.
Assistant HES Principal Gretchen Henry said the school received input that was at least 25 percent more positive than other schools.
"In the big picture, that's just great," she said. "It's a positive place to be teaching."
The survey asks teachers how strongly they agree or disagree about statements regarding community support, student conduct, teacher and school leadership, and more.
Areas for improvement include building cleanliness and the environmental health of the school.
Henry said the school is doing a study for the kindergarten wing, which has had mold issues and which she believes teachers are specifically concerned about in regard to the environmental health question.
At Bromfield, O'Shea said that about 95 percent of topics showed improvement. But, he said, there's many topics the school needs to look at and determined what can be done.
One includes the influence teachers have on decision-making in the school -- only 71 percent of Bromfield teachers said they agreed that they have an "appropriate" level of influence.
"That's something we can work with our faculty to see how we can improve that," he said.
Meanwhile, the students at HES are largely happy, according to a student survey of 286 students. About 86 percent of students said they are treated with respect by their peers, about 87 percent said they "fit in" at HES , and 100 percent said that they have friends at school.
But only about 62 percent said they felt safe on the bus, while 30 students said they disagree with that statement.
"It has been an issue that we've wrestled with this year," Henry said. "We actually have made some significant changes but obviously we need to get better."
About 84 percent of students agreed that they felt safe in the bathrooms, with 36 students disagreeing with that statement.
Bus transportation was also an issue in the annual Devens Educational Advisory Committee survey.
"In the past years, these have actually been the highest scores in our survey," said DEAC Chair Maureen Babcock.
Bus #7 in particular has had problems with behavior and timing. Next year, the bus will cut off a few of its extra loops on the way into Devens. The district also placed a monitor on that bus to keep a check on student behavior.
Connelly has said that the behavior has been very good over the past few weeks, and the district will more than likely start next year without a monitor.
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