BOSTON (SHNS/WWLP) – State education officials on Friday updated their planned MCAS testing schedule, pushing back exam dates for students in grades three through eight.
An email the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education sent to superintendents shortly before noon informed them of a May 10 to June 11 testing window for students in grades three through five, with dates to be determined for students in grades six, seven and eight.
The announcement came two hours before the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education was slated to meet to vote on giving Education Commissioner Jeff Riley the authority to decide when districts can no longer use remote or hybrid learning models.
Riley has said he will pursue a phased approach with the goal of getting as many kids as possible back into classrooms by the end of this school year, focusing first on elementary school students next month and then moving to older grades.
After canceling MCAS administration last year because of the sudden transition to remote learning — a move teachers unions and some lawmakers want to see repeated this year in light of the continued disruption to education — education officials had already announced changes to this year’s exams, including shorter tests for third through eighth graders.
The Baker administration supports the tests as an important way to diagnose pandemic-era learning loss. In written comments to the board Friday, Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy questioned the timing of the vote to let Riley bring kids back into classrooms, asking if the “planned launch of MCAS testing on April 5” was “the real motivation” behind the administration’s “haste” to have the regulatory changes approved.
Massachusetts Teachers Association President, Merrie Najimy, responded to the April 5 decision in a statement, expressing strong opposition to the MCAS tests being administered this spring in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We believe the state should be pressing the federal government for a waiver from having to administer these tests – not simply postponing them. High-stakes standardized tests are problematic in the best of times, and they would be especially damaging right now.
They would add stress to an unbelievably stressful year and won’t provide results that are valid, reliable, or useful. They would simply tell us what we already know: that low-income students and students of color have been impacted the most by the disruptions.
If state officials want to know what students need in order to recover from the pandemic, they should ask students, teachers, and parents themselves – not rely on a test that can’t possibly assess their most important needs for human connection, creativity, friendship, and emotional support.MTA President Merrie Najimy