BOSTON (SHNS) – Teachers on Monday plan to call on lawmakers to eliminate the requirement that students pass the MCAS exam in order to graduate and replace it with what they say would be a broader framework that features “more authentic forms of demonstrating student achievement.”
Legislation (S 293/H 612) sponsored by Sen. Jo Comerford and Rep. James Hawkins, which is up for a hearing Monday before the Education Committee, also calls for the creation of a grant program to support communities as they develop district-based evaluation models. Lawmakers have stood by the MCAS graduation requirement, which supporters say is a way to measure student achievement and hold schools accountable, in the face of complaints that educators have to “teach to the test” and that students are forced to spend too much time on the exam and preparation for it.
In a statement on Friday, the Massachusetts Teachers Association said “the influence of the MCAS has allowed white supremacy to flourish in public schools, effectively alienating students who have diverse backgrounds and differentiated learning styles.” “The implementation of the MCAS and other standardized tests has had the exact opposite effect of what was supposed to occur when the system was introduced more than 20 years ago,” MTA President Merrie Najimy said.
“Public schools in predominantly Black and brown communities have been taken over by state bureaucrats who have been using standardized testing as a tool not to improve opportunities for students but instead as one to pry public education from the hands of the families and educators who know best what their students need.” The MTA said its Vice President Max Page believes MCAS “does a better job of measuring students’ socioeconomic conditions than their academic abilities.” The Education Committee’s virtual hearing on assessment and accountability bills gets underway Monday at 11 a.m.