BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted Monday to raise the standardized test scores students need in order to graduate high school.
Starting with the Class of 2026, students taking the Massachusetts Comprehensive Academic System, or MCAS, will need to earn a scaled score of 486 on the English exam, 486 on the math exam and 470 for science and technology or engineering tests. The current score thresholds are 472 for English and 486 for math.
The board voted 8 to 3 in favor of the change, with student member Eric Plankey and board members Darlene Lombos and Mary Ann Stewart voting against.
The vote came two months after the board were initially expected to decide on the proposal by Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley. Riley, in a memo previously sent to the board, cited research showing that "MCAS scores predict later outcomes in education and earnings" and "only 11% of students in the class of 2011 who scored at the current passing standard in mathematics went on to enroll in a four-year college in Massachusetts, and only 5% graduated from a four-year college within seven years."
The change has been met with public scrutiny since it was first brought up, including from the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Boston Teachers Union.
"They got 229 separate comments, and 225 of those 229 said 'Don't raise them.' And that came from us, the union, it came from individual educators, parents, students. And yet, they changed nothing," MTA President Max Page told WBZ NewsRadio. "The notion that a test that tests three subjects, that's a one-time test, that that is the measure is, to our mind, ridiculous. We believe in a much broader notion of assessment and have worked with promoting a much wider idea of how you evaluate what a school is doing."
"It doesn't entirely make sense considering actually just how not helpful a lot of the MCAS data was, in particular over the last couple of years," BTU President Jessica Tang told WBZ. "I think it speaks volumes actually taht the three board members who voted against this change were the three seats that actually represent constituents. So the students, the parent seat, and the labor seat, who also happens to be a parent in a public school as well.
The class of 2022 was not required to take and pass MCAS in order to graduate due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.