BOSTON – Massachusetts lawmakers, including state Reps. Benjamin Swan of Springfield and Aaron Vega of Holyoke, are calling for a moratorium on tying standardized testing to graduation requirements and teacher evaluations.
“I support assessment, when it’s properly used,” said Rep. Swan, who joined seven other state lawmakers at a State House press conference on Tuesday to tout their bills calling for a pause on the high-stakes aspect of standardized tests.
The call comes as state education officials are weighing whether to stick with MCAS or switch to PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), or a third way, “MCAS 2.0.”
“Standardized tests don’t correlate with college success,” said state Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville.
Jehlen has filed a bill that sets up a moratorium on the testing, and requires the state’s elementary and secondary education commissioner not to issue new “underperforming” or” chronically underperforming” designations for schools and school districts.
“If you just have a paper/pencil test, you cannot measure collaboration… and you cannot measure creativity,” Jehlen said.
Swan’s bill would repeal testing requirements for graduation under MCAS.
Rep. Vega joined the press conference and said standardized testing played a role in the Holyoke school system being put into receivership.
Vega, a critic of putting the district into receivership, said he applauded his colleagues for filing bills putting a pause on standardized tests.
“The testing we’re doing has not prepared our students for the workforce or for college,” he said.
Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters on Monday “how much is too much” testing is an “issue that’s worth having a discussion about.”
“But the last thing I’m ever going to support is getting away from the idea that there should be some baseline expectation about what somebody who gets a high school diploma learns here in the commonwealth,” he said. “And there’s some way to measure how people are doing with that.”
Asked whether students are over-tested, Baker said that’s one of the questions the state board of education is discussing.
“PARCC does allow far more tests at far more levels than MCAS does,” he said. “And one of the reasons I’m a big believer of controlling our own destiny is not only because we then get to set our own test in terms of what we believe it should look like, and create frameworks around what we think those frameworks should look like, but it also gives us more flexibility with respect to when we actually test.”