Mass. lawmakers urge against raising MCAS passing scores


“This proposal would add even much more tension to significant university students’ by now nerve-racking lives.”

Tom Landers / The Boston Globe

Ninety-seven lawmakers on Beacon Hill are urging the state’s training regulators to reject a proposal in search of to increase passing scores for MCAS exams that are necessary for large faculty graduation, arguing the go would exacerbate longstanding achievement gaps and compound students’ tension.

In a letter to Division of Elementary and Secondary Instruction Commissioner Jeff Riley and the department’s board users on Monday, the bipartisan team of legislators spoke out from a pending proposal the board is slated to take into consideration on June 28.

If handed, pupils graduating large faculty in 2026 by way of 2029 would have to accomplish bigger MCAS scores than earlier courses for graduation in mathematics, English language arts, and science.

Lawmakers wrote, nonetheless, boosting passing grades is “likely to intensify, not reverse, destructive consequences of 24 many years of the significant-stakes MCAS,” with effects most impacting pupils who are now facing disproportionate troubles, these types of as English learners, students with disabilities, and pupils of colour.

But, DESE has claimed that closing achievement gaps between college student demographics is just one of its top rated priorities, officials wrote.

The proposal is “unwise and unjust,” lawmakers wrote.

“If the state’s intention is racial and social equity, this is the erroneous way to go,” they wrote.

The letter was spearheaded by Sens. Jo Comerford, a Northampton Democrat, and Pat Jehlen, a Somerville Democrat, and Rep. Jim Hawkins, an Attleboro Democrat.

Given that MCAS scores were being to start with necessary for graduation in 2003, in excess of 52,000 learners have achieved the close of superior faculty without having passing the mandated checks, according to officials.

“Students who are denied diplomas based on MCAS scores have effectively been specified the status of large college dropouts, no matter of whether or not they have correctly fulfilled all other graduation needs,” the letter reads. “Their futures have been foreclosed. We consider that all young children in the Commonwealth are worthy of a dazzling potential.”

The Bay Condition is 1 of only 11 states that even now involve some kind of standardized tests as a graduation necessity.

And this kind of checks have broad restrictions, lawmakers wrote.

“High-stakes checks, these types of as MCAS, focus understanding on a slim array of competencies, to the detriment of capabilities needed in the wider environment this sort of as challenge resolving, innovation, conversation, social skills, psychological resilience, appreciation of variety, and teamwork skills,” they wrote.

Legislators also have critical concerns about the effect the COVID-19 pandemic is owning on students’ mental wellness.

“This proposal would increase even a lot more worry to large university students’ previously tense lives,” the letter reads. “Many college students who fail significant-stakes tests go through from destructive psychological outcomes, which include reduced self-self confidence. Even people who pass experience weeks of stress for the duration of test prep and testing.”

Jehlen, in a statement, explained elevating the scores “will make it more challenging for our most vulnerable learners to get diplomas, restricting their prospects for work and armed forces provider.

“Their universities will target even a lot more on examination preparing learners won’t have the opportunity to build abilities in collaboration, creativeness, and significant imagining,” Jehlen mentioned.

Study the comprehensive letter:

20220621 Letter to Board of Elementary and Secondary Instruction Re Mcas Passing Scores 1 by Christopher Gavin on Scribd