Action Steps to #CancelMCAS
Take Action to #CancelMCAS
Tell your school committee to pass a resolution to suspend the 2021 MCAS
Standardized tests have never been a comprehensive measure of student learning, and during a pandemic cannot possibly measure student learning with any validity. Testing will only mean that all students will lose precious learning time, while, disproportionally, Black, Latinx, low-income, English learners and special education students will fall even further behind.
Canceling the MCAS means winning support from both the state and federal governments — or helping parents and guardians understand their right to opt their children out of taking the tests. Here are some steps you can take, starting with the right to opt students out of testing.
Opt Out: Families Hold the Key
What if they gave a test and nobody came?
The MTA and Citizens for Public Schools are working together to inform parents and guardians of their opt-out rights. Here is MTA’s information on opting out, including guidance for educators. (Soon the Family’s Guide and other information will be available in multiple languages.) CPS has additional opt-out information.
Reverse the State’s Course
Let DESE know you want to cancel the MCAS this year
The educator unions and associations representing school committees and school administrators have all urged the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to join other states in urging the federal government to allow states to suspend mandated testing this year.
Despite that position, Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley and Governor Charlie Baker have said they will not seek to cancel the tests altogether, although they will seek some flexibility. Our state should be advocating for what’s best for our students, not promoting what the superintendents’ association aptly calls “a perfunctory compliance task.”
Action: Join a local #CancelMCAS event.
Action: Urge your School Committee to pass a #CancelMCAS resolution.
The MTA is partnering with Citizens for Public Schools to support resolutions calling for tests to be suspended this year. At their annual convention, members of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees voted overwhelmingly for a resolution to cancel testing this year. Now individual school committees are reinforcing that decision with local votes. Here are the school committees that have already voted.
- If yours is on the list, thank the members and publicize the vote. Write a letter to your local paper about why you also believe MCAS should be canceled this year. Here are some reasons the MTA supports cancellation.
- If your committee has not yet acted, send a message to your local School Committee members.
- BONUS: Ask your School Committee or superintendent to publicly say what former New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said in February: “So as an educator, I would say to parents, there is an opt-out and if there is ever a time for parents to consider whether that opt-out makes sense for you, this is the time.”
Let the Legislature know you oppose the MCAS graduation requirement
Massachusetts is one of just 11 states that still have a test-based graduation requirement. Students must pass a test in English language arts, mathematics and science to graduate from high school. Last year and again this year, that law has been waived for seniors. However, Commissioner Riley has made it clear that students in the Class of 2022 will have to pass the MCAS tests in ELA and math despite the disruptions.
Action: The MTA is backing a bill to provide alternatives to the test-based competency determination. Contact your legislators and ask them to support “An Act expanding opportunities to demonstrate academic achievement” filed by Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton) and Rep. Jim Hawkins (D-Attleboro).
Reverse the federal testing decision
Ever since No Child Left Behind became law in 2002, the federal government has mandated that states administer standardized tests in ELA and math at various grade levels. This year, the U.S. Department of Education is permitting states to seek “flexibilities,” but still insists on testing. While some believe that decision is final, the Biden administration needs to hear that you disagree. Join a 50-state effort to flood the U.S. Department of Education with phone calls.
Action: Call the U.S. Department of Education: 800-872-5327. Press 3 and tell them to CANCEL THE TESTS.