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Entries in On Campus by Sarah Butrymowicz

A trial run of new online tests in Massachusetts has received mixed reviews from the state’s educators. Although some school district officials say they’re confident they’ll be able to handle the shift to computer-based testing if it becomes mandatory in two years, others worry that technical problems on the local level will make the results meaningless.

In March and May, nearly 70,000 randomly selected students in Massachusetts took the new tests, which are meant to be aligned with Common Core standards now in place in 43 states. Hundreds of thousands of other students in 13 other states were also part of the trial run of the exam, which is known as PARCC, for the multi-state consortium that designed it, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Freshmen in David Nurenberg’s honors English course were spending their Monday morning analyzing the ending to “Oedipus the King.” For an hour, students theorized about why Oedipus would blind himself with his mother’s brooch and debated who, if anyone, was at fault in the famous Greek tragedy. One student dissected the play’s prophecy and another compared Oedipus to Lenny in “Of Mice and Men.”

It was the kind of discussion that some at Concord-Carlisle High School initially feared would become a rarity when Massachusetts adopted the Common Core State Standards, a nationally developed set of math and English language arts standards designed to prepare all students for college or the workforce.

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