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Massachusetts Board of Education votes to raise MCAS scores required for graduation

Student fills dots out on a standardized test.
Nguyen Dang Hoang
Student fills dots out on a standardized test.

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted Monday to raise standardized test scores needed for high school students to graduate.

The new Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System
(MCAS) requirements will apply to students graduating in the class of 2026 to 2029.

The 8-3 vote came with dissent from many parents, teachers, students, and nearly 100 state lawmakers. Max Page, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, was one of them.

"The people behind me, the educators, unions, parents, students will stay committed until each of you who continue to reinforce this high stakes testing regime have moved on to other places and we've replaced you with people who will reverse this two decades long travesty," he said.

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.

Commissioner Jeff Riley said his proposal is measured and gives students who were out of school during the pandemic the opportunity to get "back on track" after learning loss.

"I believe in raising the standards and improving the EPP (Educational Proficiency Plan) particularly because parents need to be told the truth about where there students are functioning," he said. "In raising the standards we are actually playing catch up."

This report includes information from State House News Service.

Corrected: August 15, 2022 at 5:51 PM EDT
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 8-3 in favor of raising MCAS scores. This information was incorrect in an earlier version of this article.
Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.