BOSTON (SHNS) – The state’s largest teachers union officially got on board Sunday with the proposed ballot question seeking to eliminate the requirement that high schoolers pass the standardized MCAS tests in order to graduate.

The unanimous vote of the Massachusetts Teachers Association’s board to support the initiative came four days after union Vice President Deb McCarthy and others filed a proposed ballot question that would eliminate MCAS as a graduation requirement.

If Attorney General Andrea Campbell determines the question passes Constitutional muster, the MTA said it and its “community allies will begin gathering more than 75,000 signatures, the number required for the question to appear on the 2024 statewide ballot.” The MTA has long opposed the exams that were created as part of a 1993 education reform law aimed at improving accountability and school performance.

The first MCAS tests were given in 1998, and high school students have been required to pass the tests to graduate since 2003.

“The elected leadership of the MTA has made clear how educators feel about the high-stakes nature of the MCAS exams and the unjust use of them as a graduation requirement. The MCAS has not only failed to close learning gaps that have persisted along racial and economic lines, but the standardized tests have exacerbated the disparities among our student populations. We are one of the last states using this outdated method of assessing academic mastery,” MTA President Max Page and McCarthy said in a statement.

“MTA educators support locally developed and state-approved methods of certifying students’ mastery of academic coursework necessary for a high school diploma.” Page and McCarthy noted that the MTA “is not asking voters to end MCAS exams altogether,” merely to eliminate the requirement that high schoolers pass the exams before graduation.

The MTA board on Sunday also voted to support a campaign aimed at convincing lawmakers to pass the so-called Cherish Act (S 816 / H 1260), legislation the union has long supported which would create a “debt free college scholarship program” and increase pay and access to benefits for staff and faculty, including adjunct faculty teaching at public colleges and universities.