Students in Massachusetts will be administered the MCAS test this year though some of the requirements have changed.
During a pair of weekly video addresses and during this week’s School Committee meeting Superintendent Eric Conti and Assistant Superintendent Patrick Larkin updated the community on the state of the annual test and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) guidelines for it.
“While we disagree with the state’s decision to continue with MCAS this year, we are complying with the mandate on the following dates,” they said.
Grade 3-5 students will take ELA MCAS on May 18 and Math MCAS on May 20. Fifth grade students will also take the Science MCAS on May 25.
Middle School students will take their ELA MCAS on June 2 and their Math MCAS on June 4. Eighth grade students will also take the Science MCAS on June 9.
At the elementary and middle school levels all students who are fully remote will take the test at the same times as their peers. Students who require special accommodations, such as having the test read to them, will be invited to a centralized location at the high school for assistance.
All sophomores will be required to take the ELA & Math MCAS this year. Testing will be held on May 17, 18, 24 and 25. Freshman will be required to take the Biology MCAS on June 8 and 9.
They added that DESE has determined that students in grade 11 will not be required to take the MCAS but while it won’t be mandatory, current juniors and seniors may still take the test this spring to qualify for the Adams Scholarship and Koplik Certificate of Mastery. Juniors who do not participate this spring will be able to test for scholarships during the retest period in fall 2021.
Conti said this year the test is being used for diagnostic purposes rather than as a requirement for graduation.
“It’s a lot of time and energy and I’m not quite sure of the benefit but we are doing it,” he said.
School Committee member Christine Monaco said she thinks it could be helpful to see how much the pandemic has impacted students’ learning.
“I think it would be indicative to some extent as to how much we’ve lost or how much we haven’t lost,” she said. “I think it’s an interesting measure – I’d like to see the MCAS scores from this year. I’d like to have them as a measure of what happened during COVID.”
Member Martha Simon said that while it may be useful to some extent, she thinks students are struggling with the situation and one test shouldn’t be used too extensively for diagnostics.
“I think that so much depends on the students’ motivations,” she said. “We may find there are declines or not or advancement in the scores. But I believe the district administers diagnostics that are much more useful. So I think whatever the results are we should use the information to help us help our children but I don’t think we should read too much into it.”