Questions about Yesterday’s Release of Next-Generation MCAS Results

Statement from Citizens for Public Schools/Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance regarding today’s release of next-generation MCAS results:

(Courtesy of timlewisnm/Flickr)

(Courtesy of timlewisnm/Flickr)

 

Results from the next-generation MCAS exam show that, in most grades and subjects, more than half of Massachusetts students scored below the new “meeting expectations” level.  The likely result of this will be more pressure to focus narrowly on increasing test scores, which will further narrow our curriculum and harm our students.

These results raise important questions that we hope will be asked and answered in the coming days and weeks:

1) A 2015 Mathematica study commissioned by Secretary James Peyser showed that neither the legacy MCAS nor PARCC measured college readiness accurately (scores accounted for only 5% to 18% of the variation in first-year college grades). Why should we expect that this new test will get any more accurate results?

2) DESE reports that Massachusetts students are first in the nation and perform at world-class levels based on a number of measures.

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What a Night for Public Education!

 

Panelists Matt Damon and Luis Navarro before the Backpack Full of Cash screening. Below, Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang, Matt Damon, Nancy Carlsson-Paige and Luis Navarro. (All photos by Louis Kruger)

A heartfelt thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make last night’s Backpack Full of Cash event such a huge success, including all the CPS volunteers, board members and staff who pitched in.   

Filmmakers Vera Aronow and Sarah Mondale did a magnificent job. Our panelists Matt Damon, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Jessica Tang and Luis Navarro did just what I had hoped they would. They connected the powerful film’s message to what’s happening here on the ground in Massachusetts.
 
Of course, we all love Cambridge native Matt Damon, our favorite public education advocate (and the secret sauce who helped us fill the house), but our friend and ally Jessica Tang got the evening’s biggest round of applause!   → Read More

Join CPS and Matt Damon Sept. 13 for Backpack Full of Cash documentary

Please join us on Wednesday, September 13 at 7 pm at the Wheelock Family Theater (200 Riverway, Boston) for the Boston premiere of the acclaimed documentary Backpack Full of Cash, about the threat of privatization to our public schools.
 
The event is free and open to the public – No Tickets Required – Seating on a First Come, First Served basis.  Click here to RSVP and Share on Facebook. Click here to view the trailer.    → Read More

Life and Learning in MA Turnaround Schools

On Tuesday, June 13, Senator Pat Jehlen hosted a powerful State House briefing featuring eyewitness accounts from a student, a parent and teachers about what it actually looks and feels like to be in a Level 4 “turnaround” school. 

It was clear that the current system is not helping but is causing harm and dislocation to black and brown communities, especially those with large populations of recent immigrants and English language learners. It is also clear that, under the current federal education law, it doesn’t have to be this way. 
 
I urge those who couldn’t be there to watch at least some of the recording, including the powerful testimonies of Brighton High teacher (and finalist for MA Teacher of the Year) Martha Boisselle and Excel High School student Trinity Kelly, which come in the first 15 minutes of the video. Click here to watch. 
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Less Testing Group to Ed Commissioner: “Does Anti-Bullying Policy Still Stand?”

The Less Testing, More Learning coalition has called on Massachusetts Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester to denounce the bullying or punishing of students who opt out of the MCAS.

The coalition’s call followed a letter from Commissioner Chester to school leaders that struck a significantly different tone than was communicated by him on the same subject in January 2016.

Most notably absent from Chester’s recent letter was anti-bullying language that had been included in 2016 instructions to school leaders on the MCAS, saying that students should not be pressured or punished if they declined to take the test.

In 2016, Chester told superintendents to try to persuade students to take the MCAS, but if they refused, “We ask principals and test proctors to handle refusals with sensitivity. Students should not be pressured to take the test, nor should they be punished for not taking the test.” [The memo is here.]

This week, he sent new instructions for handling opt-outs.   → Read More