By Bob Katzen
The House approved and sent to the Senate a proposal that would allow changes to the state’s high school standardized testing requirements. The bill would allow Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to authorize changes to the state’s high school standardized testing requirements, including suspending some testing requirements. The bill ensures that if a senior is required to pass the MCAS to graduate, he or she will be given a time other than this spring to take the exam.
The measure allows school districts who cannot adopt a budget by June 30, 2020 because of the pandemic to approve monthly budgets. It also prohibits a city or town from terminating any resident’s essential services including water, trash collection or electricity; or for nonpayment of taxes or fees if the nonpayment resulted from a demonstrated inability to pay due to circumstances related to the outbreak of COVID-19.
“This bill recognizes the challenges students and districts are facing as we handle the impacts of COVID-19,” said Rep. Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley), House Chair of the Committee on Education. “It allows the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education to delay the due date for district plans required under the Student Opportunity Act and directs him to waive the normal administration of MCAS testing. Furthermore, the legislation grants much needed discretion to the commissioner and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to make whatever modifications they deem appropriate for competency determinations based on timely information. The flexibility contained in the bill is essential for our students and school districts as the commonwealth faces an unprecedented crisis that evolves on a daily basis.”