Another version of MCAS test could be developed

By Chris Maza

LONGMEADOW – More changes to Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) testing could be on the horizon.

Superintendent M. Martin O’Shea recently reported to the School Committee that at a superintendent’s roundtable, Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley indicated the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would be “taking another look at MCAS.”

“It seems to be a perpetually moving target for us,” O’Shea said. “But the good news is they’re conceptualizing a test that would be shorter and more individualized for students.”

Also on the subject of testing and student evaluation, as part of its efforts to adapt to changing educational standards, the Longmeadow School District will host a special event on student success on Oct. 15.

The Longmeadow Public Schools Special Events Committee will host a program with Challenge Success, an organization that works with school districts nationwide to help them re-think their understanding and definition of student success, O’Shea told the School Committee.

“The presenter will work through staff during the day and then talk to parents at night,” he said.

Oct. 15 is a professional development day for Longmeadow Public Schools. The presentation for parents will take place in the Longmeadow High School auditorium from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

According to the organization’s website, Challenge Success’ mission includes the implementation of “research-based strategies that promote student well-being and engagement with learning,” stating the current educational climate “has stressed out some kids and marginalized many more.”

O’Shea also told the committee during his report that the district is closely monitoring the recent Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)concerns in the state, working in tandem with the Board of Health and Health Director Beverly Hirschorn.

Longmeadow remains at moderate risk and the town has advised residents to take special precautions against the mosquito-borne illness.

“Right now it seems we’re holding steady at that moderate risk level,” O’Shea said. “Other communities at more of a distance have been deemed to be at critical risk and have had to cancel evening events. We are not there yet but if need be, we are in a good position to be able to reschedule pretty quickly.”

The Board of Health recommends wearing long sleeves and long pants when possible and utilizing insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus. Residents are also advised to check doors and screens to ensure they are intact, make sure drains and downspouts are working properly and prevent standing water in containers, pots, barrels, birdfeeders and pools.