Students Spared More MCAS Requirements; Commissioner Withdraws Proposal Due to Statewide Opposition to Using MCAS for College

for further information:
Karen Hartke (857) 350-8207
Sumner Kaplan (617) 457-8888

for immediate release Tuesday, May 28, 2002


A loud chorus of opposition from education experts, teachers, parents, college administrators and others from across the Commonwealth resulted in state Commissioner of Education David Driscoll withdrawing his motion to the Board of Education that high school students’ MCAS results be added to their transcripts.

The Commissioner’s decision came after at least 120 organizations and individuals wrote to the Board to oppose the change in regulations. The measure even drew fire from several staunch MCAS supporters, including Boston Superintendent Thomas Payzant and state Senator Robert Antonioni, who publicly condemned the Board for overstretching the use of MCAS. The Alliance for High Standards NOT High Stakes vows to oppose any measures that would result in the use of MCAS scores for college admissions.

“Putting MCAS on student transcripts was never on the table, even during the most intense parts of Education Reform deliberations over the past eight years,” commented Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, which has voted twice to suspend the use of the test at a graduation requirement.

Hailing the decision as a victory for opponents of the MCAS graduation requirement, the Alliance noted that the Board is already acting in violation of the Education Reform Law by using the MCAS to deny diplomas to high school students. “Several school committees, parents and legal experts are challenging the Board’s authority on this matter,” commented Alliance co-founder Sumner Kaplan.

“The Board of Higher Education backed down from using MCAS for college admissions last year after the proposal was shot down by state public college and university administrators,” stated Christina Perez, University Testing Reform Advocate at FairTest, a national group advocating for open and fair test use. “This idea resurfaced because the Massachusetts DOE agreed to participate in the American Diploma Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group pushing for the use of state exit exams in college admissions.”

Parents also expressed relief over the withdrawl of the proposal. “Parents feel there is too much emphasis on this one limited exam and not enough on how to make our schools better places for students to learn,” said Jackie King, a spokesperson for the Coalition for Authentic Reform in Education, a statewide parent organization. “Using MCAS for college admissions is a step in the wrong direction. Parents will fight against similar plans that may appear down the road.”

Civil rights groups earlier expressed strong disapproval of the measure. In an earlier statement, Leonard Alkins, President of the Boston Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) commented, “MCAS exams have no relevance for college admissions and do not belong on the transcript. The transcript is an official record of academic performance and is generally used as such for college admissions. We do not want students’ high school course grades to be confused with standardized tests, nor do we want standardized test results to be misinterpreted and used as a measurement that prevents students from being admitted to colleges of their choice.”

While blocking the measure was a clear victory for the Alliance, the group will continue to press state leaders to halt the use of the exam for all high-stakes purposes, especially the 10th grade graduation requirement. “The defeat of this foolish and unfair proposal is only the first of the dominoes that will topple MCAS as a graduation requirement,” warned Kaplan.