State education board may waive some MCAS tests

State legislators gave the board the ability to modify or waive requirements for high school graduation due to the global pandemic.

BOSTON — The state board that oversees elementary and secondary education is meeting virtually Tuesday, and top on the agenda: what to do about the MCAS for high school students who missed the tests this year.

In a memo posted ahead of the meeting, Commissioner of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey C. Riley says he will present his recommendations for modifying the “competency determination” requirements for the classes of 2021–2023, or students who will be in grades 10, 11, or 12 in the coming school year.

The competency determination regulations require that students pass one high school science and technology/engineering MCAS test during their high school career. Most students take the test in 9th or 10th grade in either biology, chemistry, introductory physics, or technology/engineering.

But because of the pandemic, state legislators gave the board the ability to modify or waive these requirements for high school graduation.

The education commissioner said in the memo for Tuesday’s meeting that because many of these students couldn’t take the MCAS this year, he’s recommending the board award them the competency determination if they simply earned credits for a course in one of those subjects.

However, students in the class of 2024 — who were in 8th grade this year and are entering 9th grade next year — will still be expected to take the MCAS test in those subjects next year or in 2022.

As for English language arts and math tests, students in the class of 2022, who are in grade 10 this year will be given those MCAS tests likely sometime in the winter. And the class behind them — the class of 2023 — will take the tests next year.

Additionally, students in the class of 2021—or rising seniors—will have two opportunities to take English language arts and math retests, if they still need to.

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