School Boards Vote Against Grad. Tests

K-12 Testing

Statewide associations of local school boards in both Massachusetts and New York have recently adopted resolutions opposing the use of a single test as a high school graduation requirement.


In a strong statement of opposition to the requirement that students pass a state exam to graduate, delegates to the Mass. Association of School Committees (MASC) annual convention voted 97-27 to support the right of school districts to grant diplomas regardless of test scores. This marks the third straight year MASC has voted to oppose the state’s single-test graduation requirement (see Examiner, Winter 2000-01).


Starting this school year, the State Board of Education requires all public school students to pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests in language arts and math to earn a diploma. A lawsuit has been filed against the graduation test (see story, p. 6).


Four Massachusetts school boards have gone further than MASC and passed resolutions stating they will grant diplomas to students who meet local graduation requirements but have not passed the test. The Department of Education (DOE) insists it alone has the legal power to authorize diplomas. Supporters of local rights argue that the DOE is acting beyond its authority and has misinterpreted the law by requiring students to pass one test rather than being assessed for graduation readiness using multiple measures.


The parent-led Coalition for Authentic Reform in Education (CARE) has called on all school districts which support the MASC resolution to grant diplomas to students who meet local requirements. As more districts join the movement, pressure could mount on state policymakers to back off the testing requirement. The conflict between local and state policy-makers also could end up in court.


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New York
The New York State School Boards Association has narrowly approved a resolution to “persevere in seeking legislation requiring the New York State Education Department to authorize Boards of Education the option to award a local high school diploma to school districts that provide alternative courses and multiple assessments that respond more adequately and meaningfully to students’ individual and unique abilities, talents, interests, and plans for future personal, educational, and vocational goals upon approval by the Board of Regents.”


The resolution was proposed by the Fairport school district, whose superintendent, Bill Cala, is an active leader in seeking to end the state’s mandated high school exit exams and authorize local diplomas based on multiple measures, such as those proposed by the New York Performance Assessment Consortium (see Examiner, Spring 2002, Winter 2001-02).