MCAS graduation requirement eliminated for junior students


High school juniors will not be required to take or pass the MCAS tests in order to graduate, under a recent change approved by the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, according to State House News Service.

With the pandemic forcing schools to shutter and then resort to largely remote learning for a large portion of the academic year, last year’s 10th graders did not have an opportunity to take the tests because education officials obtained a federal waiver and legislative approval to cancel the spring 2020 MCAS.

Students are typically required to pass 10th grade English and math MCAS exams in order to demonstrate competency in the two subjects and graduate.

Although juniors will be able to take the tests to pursue scholarship opportunities, a relevant course in English and math will demonstrate competency, and those graduation requirements will be fulfilled.

Jasper Coughlin, a Billerica Memorial High School student and representative on the board, said the decision to rescind MCAS graduation requirements reinforces the notion that teachers and administrators are looking out for their students, according to State House News. 

Ed Lambert, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, wrote to the board on Tuesday suggesting that members of the class of 2022 should still be required to take the MCAS, even if they are not required to earn a certain score.

“Lambert said that past years’ passing rates suggest 85 percent or more students would achieve what would normally be considered a passing grade, and crossing that threshold would allow them ‘to know their diploma is of equal weight to those of previous classes of graduates,’” writes the State House News. 

Lambert also said that scores would provide information that could be used to create an Educational Proficiency Plan for students in their senior year, designed to assist them in meeting essential graduation standards.