Talking Points on Why MCAS Should Be Canceled
Why It is important to cancel the MCAS this school year
The use of standardized tests in public education has long raised concerns. In light of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, waiving standardized testing requirements is especially urgent now.
- The time and resources required to test students this year would be better spent educating and supporting them. Learning is moving at a different pace this year due to the pandemic. Students of color and low-income students have been impacted the most directly.
- MCAS testing would add stress and anxiety to an already stressful year. Students, families, communities and schools have experienced disruptions and stress this year like never before. As one parent wrote to us, “With children already facing enormous emotional distress, the last thing I want my child to have to worry about is taking tests they are ill prepared for.”
- Results from tests this year won’t be valid or useful. Student learning conditions have varied widely since schools shut down in March, and they are still in flux. Most students have not been taught all the material covered by the tests. That is particularly true of students attending under-resourced schools. It is both pointless and punitive to require students to take tests on subject matter they haven’t been taught.
- There are better ways to know how students have fared during the pandemic. Teacher assessments provide much more meaningful and timely information about an individual student’s knowledge, skills and needs. For systemic trends, sampling exams can provide comparative data without the downsides and costs of high-stakes tests.
- An overwhelming number of parents and legislators join educators and school committee members in opposing MCAS testing this year. According to the Understanding America Study done by the University of Southern California, support for canceling mandated standardized tests rose from 43 percent in mid-April to 64 percent in mid-October. Opposition was strong across all demographics, but highest among Black parents, 72 percent of whom favor cancellation. In addition, more than half of the state’s 200 legislators signed onto an amendment that would have canceled MCAS this year: 83 representatives and 21 senators.