New Report Shows MCAS Will Block College Access for Thousands of Students

for further information:
Christina Perez (857) 350-8207
Monty Neill (857) 350-8207


for immediate release, Wednesday October 16, 2002
For the
text of the report click here.


According to a new report released by the Coalition for Authentic Reform in Education (CARE) and the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), thousands of students in the class of 2003 who would be going on to college will be denied this opportunity solely because they have not passed MCAS. Low-income students, African Americans, Latinos, and students with special needs are particularly at risk from this punitive policy.

"Instead of improving public schools and access to higher education, MCAS makes it harder for students who complete high school to enter college," explained FairTest's University Testing Reform Advocate Christina Perez. "If a college decides a student can succeed, what right does the Department of Education have to take that opportunity away?"

This year's senior class must pass MCAS exam to receive a high school diploma. As of October 2002, one in five seniors has yet to overcome this hurdle. Most of those who still need to pass are clustered in urban and lower-income communities.

The CARE and FairTest report compares the college acceptance rates for selected high schools serving a high percentage of low-income and minority students with the percent of the current senior class in those schools that still needs to pass MCAS. At most of these schools, at least 10 percent of the 2003 graduating class who might otherwise have been accepted to college will instead have their way blocked by MCAS.

At some high schools this gap is substantially larger. At the Jeremiah Burke High School in Boston, all of the students in the past two graduating classes were accepted to a post-secondary institution - yet 40% of the current senior class still needs to pass MCAS. At Fitchburg High, about a fifth of the school's seniors who would likely be accepted to college (based on data of the postsecondary plans for last year's graduates) could have their educational plans snuffed out by the testing requirement.

"The MCAS graduation requirement will decimate the work that Massachusetts public colleges and universities have done over the past few years to diversify their student bodies," charged Larry Ward, a parent activist with CARE. "The two-tier diploma system proposed by the Department of Education of awarding 'certificates' to those who fail MCAS will not solve the problems caused by MCAS and will only serve to further segregate the higher ed system."

CARE and FairTest call on the Legislature to immediately pass legislation to end the MCAS graduation requirement and replace the test with an authentic accountability system as proposed by CARE and the Massachusetts Teachers Association. They also encourage local school committees to pass resolutions promising to grant diplomas to students regardless of MCAS and for colleges to honors these diplomas in their admissions policies.
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The report is available on-line at