Drop High-Stakes Tests

Boston Herald, January 03, 2017

Adding a high-stakes history exam to the MCAS testing battery would encourage Trivial Pursuit-style memorization rather than real knowledge of the subject (“History on the march,” Dec. 22).

The National Academy of Sciences summed up decades of research in 2011. It found that high school graduation tests fail to ensure that students have the knowledge and skills needed for college and career success. The exams do, however, depress graduation rates. They also push schools to focus on what is easily tested, not what is most important.

A growing recognition that these tests do more harm than good is behind a nationwide trend to abandon them. Over the past several years, the number of states requiring graduation exams has plunged from 27 to 13.

Massachusetts should scrap all its graduation tests, not add a new one. The savings should be invested in underfunded schools.

— Lisa Guisbond, FairTest, Jamaica Plain