The Somerville Public Schools has a comprehensive system of assessing student progress that includes teacher developed classroom assessments, quarterly grade reports, local common assessments, and statewide standardized tests including MCAS and ACCESS. Assessment data is used to individualize instruction in the classroom, make decisions about student needs, and improve instructions across grades and department.
Statewide Standardized Tests
MCAS: Students educated with Massachusetts public funds are required by federal laws and the 1993 Massachussetts Education Reform Law, state M.G.L. Chapter 69, section 1l, to participate in statewide testing. The statewide testing requirement includes students enrolled in public schools. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) regularly assesses student proficiency in Reading, English Language Arts, Math and Science/Technology using the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). The elementary MCAS tests are intended to help schools and teachers know if students have mastered the content required to succeed in high school. The statewide test schedule is available through the DESE.
Opting Out of MCAS
As the Commissioner of Education Jeffrey Riley has communicated, there is no formal process for students to opt-out of MCAS participation.
Parents should place the opt-out request, in writing to their school principal, in advance of the testing date. The request is to be submitted annually.
ACCESS for ELLs: The Somerville Public Schools also tests English Language Learners on their oral and written English proficiency using the Commonwealth's ACCESS for ELLs (ACCESS). ACCESS test results are used by the District to determine if a student continues to need Sheltered English Immersion Program or other academic support services to help them master English.
Providing teachers with "real time" data on how their students are progressing toward their grade level standards is the reason for the Somerville Public Schools' comprehensive local assessment program called STAR. Data from STAR Reading and STAR Math testing for students in grades 2 - 8 three times per year (fall, winter, and spring) allows teachers to better understand individual student's mastery of lessons and concepts so they can adjust instruction accordingly. In addition, we administer the DIBELS assessment three times a year in grades K-3 which provides teachers with data on early literacy skills such as letter recognition, sound awareness, and fluency.
For more information about STAR, see the parent brochure at: http://doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R0054872491706A8.pdf.
Helping your child with test-taking
Visit the U.S. Department of Education website for tips on ways you can help your child with test-taking.