By Bob Katzen

The State Board of Education voted to raise the minimum score that future high school students must receive on some of their MCAS tests in order to graduate including English language arts, math and science and technology/engineering. The higher score requirement will apply to students entering high school as freshmen beginning in the 2022-2023 school year.

“Raising the … standard is critical, as is the message that we believe students are capable of meeting the higher standard and the commonwealth and its educators will support them to do that,” said Education Commissioner Jeff Riley.

“This evidence underscores the importance of raising the standard and also highlights the need to articulate clearly to students, parents, educators and other stakeholders how the different levels of achievement on the MCAS tests signal whether a student is on track for success beyond high school, whether in postsecondary education, the military, the workplace, or independent and productive community life,” Riley continued.

Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville) spoke against the regulations and said raising the passing score for English MCAS “will harm children who are English learners.” “These children will be the ones most affected by raising the English passing scores because, by definition, they don’t yet read and write English fluently,” said Jehlen. “They can have bright futures as important members of our community and contributors to our economy if they can get a high school diploma.”

The most outspoken critic of the proposal was Max Page, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. “You’ve fetishized an approach to education that is, at the very least, outdated and, at the most, destructive of our schools and communities,” said Page. “You know, somewhere a little before the ed reform bill in 1983, I had a shiny object I too thought was magical. It was called a mood ring and I thought it was capturing my every change of emotion. I also thought that REO Speedwagon’s first album was really the height of pop music. Then I grew older and I grew up. The board is still fidgeting with your mood rings and spinning their REO Speedwagon albums, obsessed with a test invented some 20 years ago and repeatedly shown to do little more than prove the wealth of the student and the community where it is taken.”

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