Should Schools Get Rid of the MCAS?

This spring, students will field-test a new exam.

File photo.
File photo.
State education officials are strongly considering doing away with the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), which has been a high school graduation requirement since 2003.

This spring, students will field-test the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam, which could replace the MCAS.

"It is time to upgrade our test," said Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester in a statement. "(The MCAS) is 17 years old ... there's been a lot of advances in technology and what we know about assessment."

Massachusetts is one of 17 states that have been developing the PARCC exam.

The PARCC has its critics. The Massachusetts-based Pioneer Institute said it could violate the No Child Left Behind Act.

Should Massachusetts replace the MCAS? Share your opinion in the comments.
Jeremy Garcia April 14, 2014 at 10:20 AM
I think we have mcas for people who want to do it.
Joe Beckmann April 14, 2014 at 05:24 PM
Dear Steve Sadowski, Public education was founded - by early settlers - to provide a common experience and build community - it's "academic content" rarely went beyond the bible. The first major shift toward a common curriculum came - not from a Democrat but from George ** Bush whose No Child Left Behind established "standards." In Massachusetts we already had standards, because of "Education Reform" in the early 1990's. Those "standards" included both MCAS and portfolios, in a balanced style to empower both high and low academic skills. That got lots worse with the current administration's dominance by Pearson Learning, and the pending PARCC testing system, but, even that, is an "adaptive test," designed to get more difficult or easier depending on the responses by students to an online exam. None of this seems to have penetrated either you, or other, respondents in the last month, so, at least let the discussion revolve around fact rather than the fiction of anti-tax, anti-state, anti-regulation ideologues.
Steven Sadowski April 15, 2014 at 09:47 AM
Joe: Actually, you are sort of correct. Public Education was founded by English settlers and it did mostly focus on the Bible. So far so good. BUT, there were two schools of thought (pardon the pun) on public education: the English view that education had a responsibility to conform the individual to the collective (as you described) and the Dutch version which educated based upon individual needs. To this day, the Dutch have a workable and very successful voucher system where parents choose where to send their kids and competition creates efficiency and excellence. I believe they are #1 in the world? Outside of New York, the Dutch had very little influence in the New World and so we got stuck with the English view on public education which is that the individual must conform to the ideals of the collective. In the old days that was religion, but now, that is the state. I completely agree with your criticisms of NCLB. I don't know, maybe you're so indoctrinated in the two party system that any criticism of Obama automatically means the other person must be a republican, so whip out the Bush card? It would be nice to have a discussion that did not involve the same old tired finger pointing based upon political parties and just solve the problem, which is that testing as a means of determining quality of schools would not need to exist if school choice and competition allowed parents to support whichever school they felt gave their child the best educational outcomes. In lieu of such choices, we are stuck with these idiotic barometers that teachers hate and parents loathe.
Joe Beckmann April 15, 2014 at 11:30 AM
While it's refreshing that you know about the colonial foundation, and your observations about the Dutch system are interesting (actually it's the Finnish system with the highest scores, until, at least, the Chinese really get into it). But my view of public education is Horace Mann's (neither British nor Dutch, nor colonial). The justification for public funds for education is to create a public - a community with some common skills (largely interpersonal and career, less academic and data driven). That means that public schools are a public investment to assure all generations that the youngest can join a culture of success. This "magic" of school choice merely re-frames the segregation of pre-civil rights with a penumbra of "individual rights," a false kind of consumerism. In fact, there has always been "school choice," and private and parochial schools have always offered an option to those who either paid or took vows. For that matter, I personally think Secretary Duncan is one of the worst possible representatives of "educational change," and that testing, while a worthwhile means of documenting curricular impact, is an abysmal means to "evaluate students." Any 7 year old now knows that any standardized question is online via google, and dismisses the utility of putting such junk in their head. They're not all right, but...they're not all wrong either.
Steven Sadowski April 15, 2014 at 04:01 PM
Joe: It is a half truth that educational choice exists in this country. Property taxes are taken, whether you send your kids to private school, or homeschool. You have zero choice to pay property taxes. If you don't, your home goes to land court and you lose your home. It is coercion. A regular family is stuck sending their kids to the town's public school because they can't afford to eat the taxes AND pay tuition. Instead, only the top earners can afford to pay the town "vig." and send their kids to a private school on top of that. The private schools then have to charge a higher tuition since they have to make budget through higher prices as opposed to higher numbers/volume. This in turn creates a viscous cycle of only the rich being able to attend private schools and further cements a caste system of elitism based on income. Furthermore, where one lives can determine where one ends up in life. A student, for example, on the Lawrence/Andover line could have an entirely different existence depending upon their zip code. I am luck we live in Westford, but I could have easily lived in Chelmsford. Same area, different schools. There should be a voucher system so that parents could send their kids wherever best fit their needs. I think your way f public education creates segregation, not the other way around, because the rich tony towns have their great schools and the poor towns are stuck, unless they can have a Charter school, but those are sometimes given by lottery. I agree that testing is not a good metric for evaluating students en masse. In the classroom to insure you know the material, yes, but as a blanket test to determine compliance or aptitude, no.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »