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Massachusetts DESE makes changes to the MCAS schedule, graduation requirements for 11th graders



Malden – Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey C. Riley announced today he will recommend to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education they modify the state graduation requirements for the Class of 2022. If approved, this year’s 11th graders will not be required to take the MCAS test. In addition, the timeline for administering the tests in grades 3 through 8 and 10 will be extended until June 11 in an effort to provide maximum flexibility for school districts.

According to a release, with the Board’s approval, the Commissioner’s recommendation will modify the competency determination requirement in English language arts and mathematics for students in the Class of 2022 in recognition of the missed testing opportunities when schools were closed last spring. As a result, the upcoming administration of the MCAS, scheduled to open on May 3, will no longer be required for current 11th graders.

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.

In addition, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will offer remote administration of the ELA, mathematics and science assessments this spring for grades 3 through 8 to accommodate families who chose to have their children learn remotely through the end of the school year. The Department will provide school districts with additional information in the coming weeks.

These proposed modifications to the 2021 MCAS are in addition to earlier changes the Department made, which included:

•Postponing testing until later this spring.
•Shortening MCAS testing for grades 3 through 8, administering only a portion of each MCAS assessment in each subject.
•Modifying the competency determination for the Class of 2021 by allowing students to receive their CD by passing an approved course and demonstrating competency in that subject.
•Providing accountability relief for school districts, the Commissioner will not name any new underperforming or chronically underperforming districts or schools in the upcoming school year.

The Department also extended the testing window for ACCESS testing for English language proficiency from February until May 20, 2021.

While recognizing the need for adjustments and flexibility, the Department maintains that the MCAS test is a crucial diagnostic tool to promote student success and educational equity.

“The MCAS tests will provide Massachusetts educators and families critical insight into academic losses that must be addressed, as well as data on which students and districts have been most impacted by the disruptions in schooling. Administering the MCAS will make it possible to reliably assess students’ progress in relation to curriculum standards.”

Under federal law, states are required to test students annually in math and English in grades 3 through 8 and in one grade level in high school. Additionally, testing in science is required once in elementary, middle and high school.

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