Remove the MCAS as a graduation requirement in MA
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What is MCAS?
The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment system, or commonly abbreviated as MCAS, is the Commonwealth's statewide standards-based assessment program developed in 1993, in response to the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of the same year. State and federal law mandates that all students who are enrolled in the tested grades and who are educated with Massachusetts public funds participate in MCAS testing.
Why does it matter?
In the 10th grade, all students are required to pass this test. If they do not pass this test, they do not obtain a high school diploma, but rather a certificate of completion. This seems to be against acceptance and diversity, two things in which school systems seem to promote.
Not all students test well. Not all students learn and retain knowledge at the same rate that others do. Some students need extra help. There are special needs students who's goals may be different from the 'typical' child. So even if a child attends school every day, gets passing grades in all their classes and completes all their class work, & builds trusting relationships with school administrators, does not mean that they will receive a diploma.
The MCAS test does offer an 'alternate' version of the test in which instructors keep a portfolio for each child. The portfolio tracks and measures the progress of each student from the first day of school in September until the spring when the regular MCAS test is given to other students. However, a child will not "pass" the test taking this 'alternate' version. It's more like a "check mark" to show something was completed.
Why do I care?
I am a mother to 4 children. Three of those 4 have either had, or currently have an IEP in place. Currently my oldest child is going into the 10th grade. He has ADHD and ASD. He goes to school daily and never complains. He completes his coursework and homework like he's supposed to. He gets all As, maybe a couple of Bs in each of his classes. His teachers absolutely adore him and are constantly praising him on his work, ethics & personality. He doesn't use his "disabilities" as an excuse but instead, shows that they will not hold him back. But here comes the state of Massachusetts to tell him otherwise. Two years ago, my child received a letter from a state representative congratulating him on his achievements, because he had made the honor roll! But apparently, that's not enough. Not only for him, but any other student that faces disabilities, anxiety, the pressure of needing to be good enough... Every year students are stressed out and made to feel like this test is the only thing that matters. All the years of schooling, all the passing grades, all the places on honor rolls... none of that matters if they can not pass this test. Imagine the stress that would put on an adult, never mind a teenager who is wondering what they should or could be doing with their life. Essentially, it's just not fair.
My other thoughts...
Massachusetts doesn't need to do away with MCAS entirely, just the graduation requirement. I, personally, have no issues with administering tests to gather information on the knowledge of students. Use the information to see where children struggle, where they thrive, and adjust curriculum accordingly. Use the tests to measure district scores. There is just no reason whatsoever that this needs to be made as a requirement for graduation. None. By doing away with a graduation requirement, children will have less anxiety. They won't be made to feel as if they're not good enough. The stress level of high school students would decrease greatly. Every child, special needs or not, gets a change at the diploma that they earn. All children, special needs or not, feel equality. Every child, special needs or not, succeeds. Diplomas should be handed out based on completion of high school classes/credits and grades that the child receives while completing their education. The MCAS test is not a culmination of that and it should not be used as a measure to assess any student individually.
Please sign this petition to stand with every student and parent in the state of Massachusetts. Together, we can make a positive change for these students.
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