While some think the test results are reflective of a lack of in-person learning, others are calling for the assessments to be abolished altogether.

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM)—For the first time in two years, test results are out for the standardized exams students take here in Massachusetts called the MCAS. The scores are surprising many across the state.

MCAS testing did not play out as usual in 2020 or the Spring of 2021 due to the pandemic. They weren't required for seniors to graduate, however, students still took them. While some think the test results are reflective of a lack of in-person learning, others are calling for the assessments to be abolished altogether.

“We’ve seen drops across the board in the commonwealth and everyone is going to have to step forward and work on our kids' mental health and on their academic needs going forward to make sure that our kids get what they deserve,” said Jeffrey Riley, Commissioner of Education for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Riley announced the MCAS test results from Spring 2021 Tuesday morning.

46% of students in grades 3-8 scored “meeting expectations” or higher in English language arts, down from 52 percent in 2019. Only 33 percent met expectations in math, down 16 percent from 2019.

In grade 10, 64 percent met expectations or higher in English language arts, which was an increase from 2019. But their math scores were down seven percent from two years ago.

One family from Western Mass thinks the numbers make sense.

“It’s not a surprise because everybody was home,“ said Charles & Shanneah Langford of Springfield.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Teacher Association is speaking out, pointing to the hard work accomplished by both teachers and students while trying to stay safe during the pandemic. President Merrie Najimy said in a statement in part:

“To suggest now that educators and students somehow “underperformed” or didn’t meet an arbitrary expectation is both insulting and shameful.”

The statement also claims test scores have an inherent bias that reinforces structural racism and puts students of color at a disadvantage.

Western Mass News received a statement from Holyoke public schools, that said in part:

“The gap in performance between Holyoke and the state stayed the same in grades 3-8 English and decreased in grades 3-8 math, grade 10 English, and grade 10 math. Although the gap declined, the overall level of performance continues to be very concerning.”

Westfield school superintendent Stefan Czaporowski told Western Mass News they’re implementing Project, which is a performance-based assessment as an alternative.

“You have students who are very skilled and hands-on type activities but then you put them in front of a test and they don’t do well but it doesn’t mean that they’re not going to be a success," said Czaporowski

Others are in favor of “computer adaptive assessments” in place of what they think is a dated test.

“Why continue using a 30-year-old model that doesn’t give us any better information on students than it did 20 years ago?“ said one resident.

Families will receive their students' individual test scores after Sept. 30.

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