Support the Thrive Act: Write the Joint Education Committee

It’s coming down to the wire, the end of this state legislative session at the end of June. You can raise your voice one more time for the Thrive Act before the session ends by sending a letter to the members of the Joint Committee on Education.

Massachusetts’ state takeover law, and the state’s misuse of the MCAS as a graduation requirement, are failing our students and disrupting their education. The Thrive Act would end the failed system of state takeovers of school districts, and replace it with a comprehensive support and improvement system that focuses on giving students and educators the tools and resources they need to succeed. The legislation would also support students by establishing a modified high school graduation requirement in which coursework would replace the MCAS test as the basis for showing student mastery of state standards. And, the legislation would create a commission to give our communities a voice in building a better assessment and accountability system.   → Read More

Testing Education, with Kathy Greeley

CPS invited veteran Cambridge educator Kathy Greeley to read from her memoir and discuss it with participants. In Testing Education, Kathy Greeley recounts the impact of education reform from a teacher’s point of view. Based on a teaching career spanning nearly 40 years, Greeley details how schools went from learning communities infused with excitement, intellectual stimulation, and joy to sterile spaces of stress, intimidation, and fear. In this ultimately hopeful memoir, Greeley asks us to learn from the past to reimagine the future of public education. If you weren’t able to join us, you can view the recording here.   → Read More

English Learners’ High School Graduation Rate Drops with the Reinstatement of the MCAS Graduation Requirement

From 2022 to 2023, the four-year high school graduation rate for Massachusetts English Learners declined 5.8 percentage points (from 73.1% to 67.3%), according to a Citizens for Public Schools analysis. This was the largest decline ever recorded for English learners with the current method of calculating graduation rates.* In 2023, the MCAS graduation requirement was reinstated after a three-year suspension because of the pandemic. 

The suspension and reinstatement provided a unique opportunity to evaluate the impact of the MCAS graduation tests, especially on vulnerable student subgroups such as English learners. 

During the three-year suspension, impressive gains were made in graduation rates, particularly among students who disproportionately fail the MCAS. For example, graduation rates for Black students rose 6.3%, Latinx students rose 6.8%, low-income students rose 4.7%, students with disabilities rose 4.1%, and English learners rose 8.5%. Contrast this with White students’ graduation rate gain of only 0.5%. In other words, the pause in the MCAS graduation requirement coincided with dramatic increases in the graduation rates of historically underserved students.    → Read More

CPS open letter to Gov. Healey 

Let’s debate the MCAS ballot question with facts

People hold many opinions about the proposed ballot question that would end the requirement that students pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) to get a high school diploma. But some things are not a matter of opinion, they are simple facts.

That’s why we were disappointed when Gov. Maura Healey, answering a question about the ballot question, responded that she’s against it because we need “to be able to assess how our young people are doing.”

It’s a simple fact that the ballot question would not eliminate MCAS. The language is clear.

Students would continue to take the federally mandated MCAS exams. But they would get their diplomas by meeting our state’s highly regarded  educational standards as certified by their school districts rather than by attaining a certain score on the test.

Right now, there is no consequence for a fourth grader who scores low on the MCAS.   → Read More

The Surprising Story about the MCAS and MA’s High School Graduation Rates

By Louis J Kruger

Summary: After 20 years of the MCAS graduation requirement, the debate about requiring high school students to pass the MCAS tests will soon reach a crescendo. Next November, voters may be asked on a statewide ballot to decide if the graduation requirement will be discontinued. Against this backdrop, it is important for voters to know if the graduation requirement has adversely impacted Massachusetts’ overall high school graduation rate and the graduation rate of historically underserved students.

During the two decades prior to the pandemic (2000-2019), Massachusetts‘ overall high school graduation rate improved at a slower pace than the U.S. high school graduation rate. However, focusing on Massachusetts’ overall graduation rate obscures what is happening to students from historically underserved groups. Massachusetts’ graduation gaps for Latinx, Black and low-income students and English learners are all larger than the national average gaps for these students. The aforementioned student groups disproportionately fail the 10th grade MCAS tests required for a high school diploma.   → Read More