CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Concerns are circulating throughout the local education community after the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to raise MCAS requirements.

This is a controversial decision by the education department, setting new standards that many teachers believe will be too much for students to handle.

There are worries from both parents and teachers that less students will be able to graduate as a result. Ryan Viglione, a former educator in western Massachusetts, recalls the stress MCAS testing put on students, “They lose that spark for education. Definitely stresses them out, definitely stresses the teachers out, and then after the MCAS is over and they are totally done.”

Massachusetts high schoolers will need to score higher in order to graduate after the state board of education voted to raise the minimum score. Students will now have to earn a scaled score of 486 in both English and Math or score a 470 with the completion of an educational proficiency plan. Currently, the score threshold is 472, or 455 with an educational proficiency plan. These new requirements will be impacting the classes of 2026 through 2029.

The president of the Massachusetts teachers association told 22News he’s concerned this will impact opportunities for higher learning.

“In the past decade, more than 50,000 students have left high school without a diploma because they couldn’t pass one of these high stakes tests,” said Max Page, President of the Massachusetts Teacher Association. He told 22News this will only create education inequality in the state, “To now raise those scores is only going to cause more students not graduate, which is going to hurt their chances of going to college.”

Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jeff Riley, in a memo last week said in part that its critical to “believe students are capable of meeting the higher standard and the Commonwealth and its educators will support them to do that.”

The board also adopted an amendment to extend the new requirements to the class of 2030 and providing a starting point for the thresholds for classes beyond that.

Lawmakers created the MCAS system in a 1993 education reform law aimed at improving accountability and school performance.

The first tests were administered in 1998, and students have been required to achieve sufficient scores to graduate since the class of 2003.

Most students take the tests linked to graduation in 10th grade, though they can retake exams up to four more times if they do not score high enough.