Massachusetts is switching from its 20-year-old MCAS testing program to PARCC, the federally-funded Common Core test.

Massachusetts is the highest performing state in the nation on NAEP, the federal tests. Why is it making the change?

Some think it is because Massachusetts’ State Commissioner Mitchell Chester is the chair of the PARCC governing board.

“Mitchell Chester, the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary education, said the PARCC exam would help the state reduce the stubborn achievement gaps between rich and poor, white and minority, by giving teachers better information about which kids need extra support.”

So let’s get this right: a harder test will improve the test scores of kids who are poor? A harder test will raise the scores of minority students but not white kids so the gaps will be reduced? Or the scores of poor and minority kids will increase at a faster pace than the scores of rich and white kids?

And one other question: why do teachers need a new test to tell which kids need extra help? Didn’t they learn that with the MCAS? Don’t they know it by seeing the kids in class daily and reviewing their class participation and homework?

None of this makes sense.