The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted Tuesday to eliminate MCAS graduation requirements for the class of 2022.
The modification means that this year's juniors will not need to pass the MCAS test in order to graduate. The board's vote was unanimous after Education Commissioner Jeff Riley presented the proposal at a meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Tuesday's measure was preliminary; it will be followed by a formal vote in June.
It's a similar move to the accommodations made for the classes of 2020 and 2021. The education department had characterized it as “recognition of the missed testing opportunities when schools were closed last spring."
Soleei Guasp of Fall River is one member of the Class of 2022 relieved with the Board’s decision.
“There’s so much tension that comes with just taking standardized tests,” she said. “My GPA does not reflect my scores at all for MCAS. Some people are personally not very good at test taking, it doesn’t indicate that they’re not good at school.”
Guasp’s English teacher at B.M.C. Durfee High School, Kurt Ostrow, agreed it was the right move for kids already dealing with stress from learning remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think right now schools should not be a place of anxiety and you should not be worried -- ‘Am I going to graduate if I don’t pass this test?’” Ostrow said
The Massachusetts Teachers Association is arguing this move doesn’t go far enough. The group wants the graduation requirement removed permanently.
“The coursework always tells us what our students know and what they’re able to do in a way that standardized tests simply do not. Standardized tests are, more often than not, a measure of socioeconomic status and race and class,” MTA President Merrie Najimy said.
Others, like Keri Rodrigues, founder of Massachusetts Parents United, believe MCAS is needed now more than ever to show where learning loss has occurred during the pandemic.
“The MCAS does not create inequities, it reveals them,” she said, adding, “we’re not doing the class of 2022 a favor by just stamping their diploma ‘pandemic’ and saying you can just move along out of here.”
Beyond the class of 2022, state education officials have already delayed and shortened this year’s MCAS for 3rd through 8th graders and offered a remote option for students still learning remotely.
The Baker administration and other groups have called the testing a key tool for measuring the learning loss during the pandemic. But others -- including 29 of the state’s 40 senators -- asked that the tests be delayed until fall.