SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A local high school student is speaking out about the MCAS testing this year, sending a letter to local and state officials concerned about taking the test in person.

Alexander Santiago Alvarado is a senior at Holyoke High School after he moved from Puerto Rico in 2016 without speaking English.

“I have been working so hard since I got to the U.S. and before to have good grades, to excel, to portray the good picture of myself,” Santiago Alvarado said.

He is bilingual, a straight-A student, and in the top ten percent of his graduating class, but he won’t graduate unless he passes the MCAS, which is still scheduled to take place this spring.

“I may not go to college and pursue my dream in which I came to the U.S. in the first place because of this test. I don’t even know how to describe it. You get sad, you get angry, it’s just mixed feelings,” Santiago Alvarado explained.

He has been accepted to his dream school, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with the hope of studying psychology. But now that could be in question if he doesn’t take the standardized test, something he doesn’t think is fair this year amid the pandemic.

“It’s affected everyone, and I feel like it’s not fair at all for us to expose ourselves and for the teachers either because they need people to prompt the test,” Santiago Alvarado said.

Testing is still scheduled to go on. During the latest Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) board meeting, Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said they are still talking about the test.

“We acknowledge the number of students, schools, and districts affected by COVID has increased,” Riley said. “We are continuing to look into the options available to us in the winter.”

Riley said they are also looking at how the exam will be administered.

"We are exploring a number of options, including the potential for at-home testing, which might be available in certain cases,” Riley said.

But Santiago Alvarado said he hopes his letter sends a message to DESE officials.

“What I'm really hoping, the letter raises awareness that it is not the time to take the test and, in the end, not having to expose ourselves to take it,” Santiago Alvarado said.

There is new information about the standardized test. DESE said it is pushing back the testing schedule for the MCAS and access tests for the current school year. Included in the changes, eleventh graders will no longer have testing in the January - February window for MCAS tests instead, which will take place later in the year.

Testing windows for other eligible students have also been extended through February 12, an additional week.

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