Advocates call for end of MCAS requirements for graduation, state’s school takeover system

BOSTON (WWLP) – Advocates of the Thrive Act took to the State House Wednesday. Currently, high school students need to pass the MCAS in order to graduate, but advocates of the Thrive Act are saying that needs to end.

Advocates spoke about their experiences surrounding the MCAS and they believe the test highlights historical inequalities.

The Thrive Act would end the requirement to pass the MCAS for graduation, and also end the state’s school takeover system within one year. Schools currently can be partially or fully taken over by the state if the school district has low MCAS scores. However, English language learners and those with disabilities are not taken into account when looking at MCAS results.

Since the school receivership policy was put in place in 2010, three communities have been taken over: Lawrence, Southbridge and Holyoke. All three districts still remain under state control.

“We have proof that over and over again, that it has not actually, adjusted, affected, positively impacted the achievement gap in the state. It has been used to punish poor communities, poor communities of color, there’s no evidence that it actually improves education, in fact, there’s a lot of evidence that it narrows the curriculum, because what you test, when you test something, that’s what you end up teaching,” said Max Page, President of the Massachusetts Teacher Association.

A recent poll put out by MassINC Polling Group, commissioned by Democrats for Education Reform, showed support for the state taking over school districts. Also just this week, Anthony Soto, who was appointed Receiver of Holyoke Schools said that graduation rates were increasing, enrollment in advance coursework also increased and dropout rates have decreased.

Massachusetts is just one of eight states that ties a standardized test to graduation.

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