MTA Board unanimously backs MCAS ballot drive

MTA Board unanimously backs MCAS ballot drive

MTA Board also supports achievement of high-quality, debt-free public higher education through passage of the Cherish Act

MTA President Max Page and Vice President McCarthy issued this statement following the board’s vote:

“The elected leadership of the MTA has made clear how educators feel about the high-stakes nature of the MCAS exams and the unjust use of them as a graduation requirement.

“The MCAS has not only failed to close learning gaps that have persisted along racial and economic lines, but the standardized tests have exacerbated the disparities among our student populations. We are one of the last states using this outdated method of assessing academic mastery.

“MTA educators support locally developed and state-approved methods of certifying students’ mastery of academic coursework necessary for a high school diploma. The MTA is not asking voters to end MCAS exams altogether; indeed, the MCAS will, following federal law, continue to be taken by students. What will be eliminated is the graduation requirement.

“Making sure that our high-school graduates can continue their education at outstanding public colleges and universities without fear of massive debt is why we are coupling the MCAS ballot question with a robust legislative campaign to boost state investments in public higher education.

“Educators are committed to the success of our students, and at present the MCAS graduation requirement is doing nothing more than proving the wealth and education levels of parents, while also harming competent students who, for a variety of reasons, struggle with standardized tests. It is our job and the responsibility of public education to prepare students for a bright future. The MCAS graduation requirement is a pernicious barrier to that future for too many students.”

The MTA Board of Directors unanimously voted Sunday to back a ballot question aimed at eliminating the use of the MCAS exam as a high school graduation requirement.

The board also voted to support a campaign for the passage of the Cherish Act, which will increase state investments in public higher education. Cherish moves Massachusetts toward debt-free public higher education and increases pay and access to benefits for staff and faculty, including adjunct faculty teaching at public colleges and universities. Cherish investments would also target supports for students to ensure those who enroll are able to complete their programs, and investment in making campus buildings more environmentally friendly.

Massachusetts residents who support replacing the MCAS graduation requirement with locally developed alternatives for certifying academic mastery filed the question with the state Attorney General’s office on Aug. 2, the deadline for submitting ballot proposals. MTA Vice President Deb McCarthy and other MTA members were among those who signed the petition.

The MTA governing board of directors had scheduled a meeting for Aug. 6, when it planned to vote on supporting the ballot initiative. The board, composed of educators in preK through higher education, and representing areas throughout the state, gave its approval to gather signatures to place the question on the November 2024 ballot, while continuing to work for passage of the Thrive Act.

Once the ballot question is approved by the Attorney General’s office, MTA members and community allies will begin gathering more than 75,000 signatures, the number required for the question to appear on the 2024 statewide ballot.