On December 7, 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released a memo announcing that the Class of 2022’s MCAS ELA and Mathematics tests will be postponed until later in the year of 2021.
The MCAS tests were originally scheduled to take place during the January-February window to replace the tests typically taken during the Spring that had to be postponed due to COVID-19. As the pandemic continues to rage on, Juniors face even more uncertainty for the year ahead as no new testing dates were announced.
Some IACS Juniors are frustrated as they still face the expectation of passing a standardized test in order to meet graduation requirements while the pandemic reaches new highs every week in the U.S. “I personally believe it’s unfair for the Juniors to take MCAS in the pandemic because we lost so much of our education during this time and it won’t accurately show our skills in school. Also, with all the stress students are experiencing during this time, it will affect our ability in taking the test,” said Junior Effie Malvers.
In a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the results showed that 71% of the tested population of students indicated increased stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 outbreak. “Being a student with a learning disability, MCAS is hard enough, and with everything going on, it’s not helping,” said Malvers.
Taking a test on subjects covered during the 2019-2020 school year is also a cause for concern for some Juniors. “It’s not going to be an accurate representation of our school and how our teachers teach. So what’s the point of testing us if it’s not going to be an accurate representation?” said Junior Anna Vredevoogd.
MCAS, also known as the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, is designed to help teachers, parents, and students know where students are excelling and where they need help, according to mass.gov. This poses the question, if students aren’t performing to the best of their abilities due to these extraordinary circumstances, how well will the MCAS tests really help the Commonwealth identify schools and districts that need additional support?
“If they really need us to take the test, we should have the option to take it at home, because no family should be required to go into school if they don’t feel comfortable,” Vredevoogd said.
As the U.S. surpasses 365,000 coronavirus deaths this week, student opinion illustrates that a required standardized test does not seem to be a reasonable cause for students to come into school and risk their health.