SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/AP) — A group of Massachusetts professors and researchers are taking a stand against standardized testing.
They sent a letter to the state’s top education officials urging them to stop relaying on tests like the MCAS to measure both teacher and student success.
The Massachusetts Statement Against High-Stakes Standardized testing includes more than 130 professors who say tests like the MCAS create an environment of intimidation, fear, anxiety and stress for teachers and students.
Students like Leslie Melendez of Springfield. She completed all four years at Springfield’s High School of Commerce in 2008, but has not officially graduated because she failed the math section of the MCAS by two points.
“I took all the tutoring I had to and I just couldn’t pass it. I’ve already taken it like seven times,” said Melendez.
Melendez dreams of working with computers and art some day.
“I wanna just go to college, do good,” said Melendez.
She plans to take the test an eighth time this spring.
Chicopee School Committee Member David Barsalou taught Melendez before he retired. He doesn’t think they should throw out the test, but he also doesn’t think it should be a requirement to graduate. He also believes it changes how educators teach.
“It’s so important their students pass MCAS okay that they are foregoing everything else we don’t have any creative thinkers anymore,” said Barsalou.
Chicopee Assistant Superintendent Deborah Durgan oversees MCAS testing for the school department. She says the district is careful how they use the test, but believes it raises the bar for the quality of learning.
“It’s a very rigorous test and it demands the best for our teachers and our students,” said Durgan.
Monty Neill, executive director of FairTest, a research organization critical of standardized testing, says schools are becoming “test prep programs.”
The letter includes recommendations, including ensuring that any new assessment system goes beyond paper-and-pencil tests in judging student performance.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary Education stand by the MCAS.
“The Commonwealth’s assessment and accountability systems are widely regarded as among the strongest in the nation. The best education in the country today is happening in Massachusetts, and the investment we are making in public K-12 education is paying huge dividends,” said JC Considine, Director of Board & Media Relations MA Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education.
To read the full letter from the educators CLICK HERE.