If you didn’t like the proposal to increase the 10th grade MCAS scores, you are going to dislike the 11th hour, no-public-comment proposal to increase them even more.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is scheduled to meet on Monday, August 15 in a rare summer meeting. The hot-ticket item on the agenda is a vote on proposed regulations to increase the scores on the English language Arts, Mathematics and Science MCAS to qualify for a high school diploma. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education rejected hundreds of pages of public comment and decline to edit even one word or improve the Educational Proficiency Plan process that will help students graduate on time.

The big surprise? BESE Member Martin West added in a pre-meeting amendment to the regulations that will trigger another round of MCAS score increases which will take effect long after his term on the BESE ends. Note: The Policy Minute research team has never seen a regulatory amendment proposed by an individual just days before voting and with zero opportunity for public comment or legal analysis.

The West Amendment would do the following:

  • Add another year to the existing proposed regulations to set the Competency Determination standard at 486 for ELA and Math MCAS. This will presumably allow DESE to “assess the full impact of the new standard”*
  • For the Class of 2031 and after, raise the CD to 500 on ELA and Math.
  • For the Biology or Physics MCAS**, set a permanent score of 470 or higher

* No data is currently published on the impact of the current requirements, number of students denied an EPP or the number of appeals filed. No data is available on the number of students who need to delay enrollment in college or start labor training programs.
**The “Science/Technology and Engineering” MCAS will have no options for the “Technology/Engineering” MCAS or Chemistry MCAS after 2023.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association has opposed the score increases, proposed expanding non-testing pathways to high school graduation and ending the mandatory re-testing requirements. The MTA also called for DESE to develop comprehensive guidance for Education Proficiency Plans with school-based educators and mandate that EPPs are developed in collaboration with students, their families and with alignment to college and career transition planning. The American Federation of Teachers – Massachusetts also concurred the EPP process needed improvement. .

To quote the public comment submitted by parent, educator and MTA member Brian Fitzgerald “There is also ample proof that DESE has little interest in such realities, so kindly mark me down as another educator to ignore.”

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