BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Massachusetts Teachers Association, one of the state's largest teachers unions, is once again taking aim at the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) standardized test.
One of the union's priorities for the legislative session is eliminating the test altogether, which plays a significant role in how the state monitors school accountability and performance.
The MTA is also letting state residents know that they can opt out their children from having to take the exam by sending a letter to their school's principal. Passing the state high school exams are a requirement for a high school diploma, but there is no penalty for students who opt out in grades 3-8.
"Many families don’t know they can opt out," said Ricardo Rosa, a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth professor and member of Citizens for Public Schools, an organization striving to abolish standardized testing in Massachusetts.
Rosa, who refers to the MCAS as a "rank and shame" system of testing, told WBZ NewsRadio, "We don’t need this test to consistently prove the same thing over and over. We know what the issue is. Students are living in poverty. They don’t have the same resources as other communities."
"I deliberately left the classroom to use my voice to talk about the harm taking place with this high stakes, rank and shame accountability system," MTA Vice President and former Hull teacher Deb McCarthy said.
On the other side of the debate are MCAS supporters such as Ed Lambert, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education. Lambert views the MCAS as a good barometer for where each student is academically.
"MCAS is an annual academic checkup that measures whether a student is meeting the same grade level expectations that every other student is expected to meet," said Lambert. "It’s given in every school, so it allows education leaders to know what communities and what groups of students need extra support."
Previous attempts to diminish the impact of the MCAS in the Massachusetts legislature, including bills that proposed removing it as a high school graduation requirement, have been unsuccessful.
WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports.