A collection of education and civil rights groups wrote to state lawmakers on Wednesday, saying they are "absolutely convinced" the state should not administer its MCAS exams this year.
Citizens for Public Schools and 17 other organizations urged legislators and state education officials to seek a federal waiver that would allow them to cancel the tests this spring, as Massachusetts did last year when the COVID-19 pandemic first upended schooling and forced students and teachers to adapt to remote learning.
"Standardized tests have never been an equitable measure of student learning, but in a time of pandemic cannot possibly measure student learning with any validity," the letter said. "Testing will only mean that all students will lose precious learning time, while, disproportionally, Black, Latinx, low-income, English learners and special education students will fall even further behind."
Signatories include the presidents of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, Boston Teachers Union, Massachusetts Teachers Association and NAACP New England Area Conference, as well as the executive directors of Lawyers for Civil Rights and the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance. Two members of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education -- student representative Jasper Coughlin and parent representative Mary Ann Stewart -- also signed on.
Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley last month announced a series of changes to this year's MCAS exams, which he described as a "crucial diagnostic tool" for measuring the learning loss experienced during the pandemic. Third through eighth graders will have shorter tests, and seniors in the class of 2021 who have not yet earned sufficient MCAS scores to graduate will be able to meet the requirement by passing an approved class.