The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has issued new guidance regarding the annual MCAS test, but questions still remain as to how the changes will affect some Bourne students.
Bourne Public Schools Superintendent Kerri Anne Quinlan-Zhou presented the changes to the school committee on Wednesday, January 6.
In the new guidance, issued by state Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley on Tuesday, is a directive that students in the senior class will not be required to pass the standardized test to graduate. Instead, senior students who have demonstrated competency in a related academic course will be able to graduate.
“If they passed science, ELA (English Language Arts) or math, then they don’t have to take the competency determination,” the Bourne superintendent said. “It won’t hold back seniors from graduation.”
Additionally, the testing time for students in grades 3 through 8 will be reduced. This means each student will only be required to take a portion of each of the subject tests instead of the entire exam.
The commissioner said no districts in the state will be named as underperforming due to MCAS results. School Committee Chairwoman Emily Berry said she hopes MCAS results will also not be publicly posted this year.
The testing window for students who are English language learners will be extended to May 20 from February.
Lastly, more flexibility will be given on the biology test, which is usually administered to coincide with when students take that course. This year, the commissioner said districts will be able to offer the biology test in June in addition to or instead of in February.
Dr. Zhou said the updated guidance is a mixed bag, but she feels it was mostly good news. However, she said she had some questions as to how the testing will play out for Bourne students.
With the shortened test times, she said, school officials do not know if each student will be taking a different portion of the test or if all Bourne students will be taking the same test portion.
She also said she does not know how the testing will work in Bourne when some students remain entirely remote and the majority of students are learning in the hybrid model, where half the students are at home while the other half learn in person, and roles are switched weekly.
The commissioner is expected to provide further information about the plan for MCAS testing in the coming weeks.