Students at Island schools walked into classrooms and took their seats in front of computers this week to begin taking the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The test debuted last fall in a small trial that involved most Island schools, and this spring the scores will officially count. Testing began on Monday, and will include students in grades three through eight at the five elementary schools and at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School.

For the past 10 years, students on the Island have taken the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). The new test is designed in part to be more in line with the Common Core Curriculum, and to focus more on critical thinking skills, and is being adopted by several states.

About two million PARCC tests have been completed nationwide since last year, and the tests have stirred up controversy in most states, including Massachusetts where about half of the state’s 308 school districts have chosen to switch tests this year. In New Jersey, where the tests began a few weeks ago, there were reports of thousands of students opting out of the test. Students and parents have reacted similarly in other states. In many cases, the arguments against the test are the same ones that have been expressed about standardized testing in general — that they take up too much class time and do not accurately measure achievement. Sources on the Island who spoke off the record were also concerned that the material on the PARCC tests were at a level far above the grade being tested, and that the computer interface was both flawed and did not take into account an elementary school student’s lack of typing skills, something that could play a large factor in a timed test.

According to officials on the Island, however, there has been little public controversy here and few students choosing to opt out of the test. Superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss said it was hard to know how many students on the Vineyard have opted out of the PARCC, since the tests were ongoing. “I think we’re talking a small number,” he said. “Maybe one or two per building.” He noted that Massachusetts has no formal procedure for opting out, but that there was not much a school could do to force someone to take the test.

As of Wednesday, a few grades at the Tisbury School had taken the test and principal John Custer said the response from students was positive. Most finished in about an hour, he said. “It doesn’t require a tremendous amount of endurance. MCAS was typically hours of testing.”

Charter school director Bob Moore said there were two or three students not taking the test at his school, which wasn’t a major concern. “Two or three students opting out I would say is probably on the low end,” he said. Those who don’t take the test are given other academic work during the test period, Mr. Moore said.

So far, no one has opted out at the Tisbury School, Mr. Custer said.

“Our preparation here has mostly been making sure kids are comfortable, that they are ready to take tests on computers, since that is the biggest change,” Mr. Custer said. “We’ve been really impressed with what we’ve seen in the past three days. Kids are very facile, and oftentimes they are a lot quicker with technology than we are.”

For the first time this year, schools and parents will receive the results of the PARCC test. Teachers and administrators will then be able to provide feedback to the state Department of Early and Secondary Education. The board of education will vote in the fall whether to fully implement the new test.

Depending on the board of education’s vote, the PARCC test could become a graduation requirement, replacing the MCAS for English language arts and math, said Jacqueline Reis, a spokesperson for the Department of Early and Secondary Education. “But in terms of science, we are still going to have a science MCAS for the foreseeable future,” she said.

Mr. Weiss did have some reservations about the sheer amount of testing required of Island students, but not about the PARCC itself, which he believed would provide useful information about schools and students. “If it gives us the information that we need, that’s a good thing,” he said. “If there is too much of it, that’s a problem.”

Mr. Custer also favored the PARCC over the MCAS, but was troubled by the longer window of testing. The spring test covers about 75 per cent of each grade level’s curriculum, and another test is administered in May.

“When we only have 181 days with kids, that’s a lot of time,” Mr. Custer said.