The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Board voted Tuesday to start a public comment period to discuss changes to the MCAS graduation requirement. The proposal would raise the required minimum score for the English and Math section to 486 and 740 for the science and technology tests for students in the classes of 2026 to 2029.
DESE Commissioner Jeff Riley wrote in a memo to the board that the levels do not guarantee that all students who pass are prepared for success at future education levels.
"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," Riley wrote.
State Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven, who previously filed a bill to abolish MCAS testing, said she thinks the idea of raising the graduation requirements during the pandemic is a bad idea.
"Students have just had such a tumultuous few years," she said. "This is completely the opposite of what I think we should be doing to support students, parents, teachers, and our schools in general."
Uyterhoeven filed a bill in 2021 looking to get rid of MCAS and any other standardized testing that is run by a for-profit entity. The bill was set for a hearing last September and did progress beyond that point. Uyterhoeven said she sees MCAS and other standardized tests as a way to make money and that she has a different vision for the education system.
"Ultimately we want to build a public education system where students learn, become self-determined, become critical and creative thinkers, become active citizens in our democracy, and realize their talents as gifts to our society," she said. "That has never been what standardized tests have been able to achieve."
The DESE Board will vote on the proposed changes in June.