MCAS reform depends on you!

The shape of MCAS reform will soon be decided by Governor Patrick. Recommendations from the governor's Readiness Project, due this spring, could determine this issue, and that's why MTA members need to contact the governor to let him know our concerns.

On Wednesday, February 13, MTA members are invited to take part in a Lobby Day sponsored by Citizens for Public Schools, as part of its Campaign for the Education of the Whole Child. We will convene at the Statehouse in Boston, beginning at 10:30 am in Room 350, and will be asking our legislators and the governor to ensure high-quality education by reforming MCAS now.

Join the grassroots lobby!

During the week of February 11-18, grassroots lobbyists -- including teachers, parents, students and concerned citizens -- will be asked to phone, e-mail or visit the governor's office and their legislators. Legislators will be urged to contact the governor, as well as their representatives on the Leadership Council of the Readiness Project, the co-chairs of the Education Committee, Rep. Pat Haddad (D-Somerset) and Sen. Bob Antonioni (D-Leominster), asking for their support of MCAS Reform.

Send a message on MCAS!

Join the phone and e-mail lobby, February 11-18.

Tell the governor and your legislators:

  • Thousands of Massachusetts students suffer the unintended consequences of MCAS: increased dropout rates, stagnant or growing achievement gaps, and schools more focused on testing than on providing a well-rounded education.
  • Standardized tests should not be a barrier to graduation for students who can demonstrate they have met the state standards in other ways. We must reduce the weight of MCAS and use a range of evidence to determine graduation eligibility, as has been done successfully in other states.

 

Governor's Office Phone Number:  617-725-4005
 
State House Phone Number:  617-722-2000

For more information on participating in the February 13 MCAS Lobby Day on Beacon Hill, contact Julie Johnson, MTA Governmental Services, jjohnson@massteacher.org or at 617-878-8315.


Background on MCAS Reform Efforts and H561

MTA is a founding member of a coalition organized by Citizens for Public Schools (CPS) to support MCAS reform.  MTA was a sponsor of the report issued by CPS in 2006, the Campaign for the Education of the Whole Child, that called for MCAS reform and increased school funding. (An executive summary may be downloaded here.)

MTA has filed a comprehensive rewrite of MCAS for the past several legislative sessions. This year it is S310, sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Creem, D-Newton. For this session MTA also helped to draft the MCAS Reform bill, H561 (text of the bill and fact sheet), developed by CPS and filed by Rep. Carl Sciortino (D-Somerville) and Sen. Pam Resor (D-Acton), along with 29 other co-sponsors. 

MTA worked with CPS and the bill’s sponsors on an MCAS Reform forum at the State House in March 2007 for legislators and staff to discuss H561, and helped organize for the public hearing on MCAS bills, held on June 5, 2007, before the Education Committee.  The hearing was well attended by supporters of MCAS reform and H561; in fact, there was no oral testimony offered in opposition to H561 at the hearing. (MTA's testimony)

In August, 2007, Gov. Patrick announced the appointment of a citizen panel of advisers to make recommendations for state action on all aspects of education reform, the Commonwealth Readiness Project.  One of the 13 subcommittees is on "MCAS and Assessments." Final recommendations from the project will be made in late spring. 

On January 8, H561, along with a large number of other bills proposing changes to MCAS, was sent to a "study" by the Education Committee.  In most cases, this means that the bills are effectively dead for this legislative session, which ends in 2008. However, the co-chairs of the Education Committee, Rep. Pat Haddad (D-Somerset) and Sen. Bob Antonioni (D-Leominster), also serve on the Leadership Council of the Commonwealth Readiness Project, where they have an important role in determining the future of MCAS.

It is now clear that any changes to MCAS will most likely be proposed through the Readiness Project and that many changes can be made by the Board of Education, without need for legislation.  The MCAS and Assessments subcommittee of the Readiness Project is making recommendations to the Leadership Council on changes it believes are necessary to MCAS and it will then be up to the Leadership Council and the governor to decide what changes will be proposed.

Therefore, our primary focus now is on the governor, as well as on the members of the Readiness Project's Leadership Council.