Since Massachusetts schools began closing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic last month, parents, students, and educators have spoken out and advocated for the cancellation of this year’s MCAS. On Friday, this advocacy paid off, as Governor Baker signed legislation – passed by the Legislature on Thursday – that suspends the testing requirement this year.
"The educators of AFT Massachusetts appreciate the House and Senate’s passage of legislation to waive this year’s MCAS requirement," said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. "We are glad Governor Baker signed the bill immediately so that students and educators can focus on staying healthy and learning during this crisis, rather than worrying about test prep."
Thousands of advocates signed a petition to lawmakers calling for the cancellation of the test, arguing that during the disruption caused by this pandemic, the MCAS cannot possibly measure student learning with any validity.
"Let teachers and students focus on staying healthy and problem-solving to sustain our education system and not have to worry about test prep," read the petition circulated by Citizens for Public Schools and signed by more than 4,000 individuals. "Test-related funding that can be re-allocated should be spent on more urgent relief for schools and vulnerable students at this critical time."
After hundreds of calls to legislators and advocacy by AFT Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Citizens for Public Schools, and other public education advocates, the Legislature on Thursday passed a bill, H.4616, that suspends the annual requirement for a standardized test in public schools.
"Cancelling MCAS testing for the remainder of this school year will enable our teachers and students to focus on learning and personal well-being as we continue to navigate the current public health emergency," said Senator Jason Lewis, co-chair of the Legislature's Education Committee, in a statement. "Legislators heard loud and clear from teachers, parents and superintendents that this was the right thing to do."
The legislation also instructs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to modify or waive the MCAS competency standards that are typically required to acquire a high school diploma.