School board debates ‘high-stakes’ testing


During a recent meeting, School Committee member Dr. John Wells, referencing legislation recently introduced at the State House that would dramatically alter the manner in which so-called high stakes testing data is used, suggested city officials should take a position on the proposal.

“There seems to be a lot of support [for these changes], and we may want to take a look at whether we want to [weigh in],” said Wells.

Though he didn’t specifically mention the legislation by name, Wells was likely referring to a proposal entitled, “An Act Strengthening and Investing in our Educators, Students, and Communities”, which would implement comprehensive education reforms, including:

• The imposition of a three-year moratorium on the use of MCAS, PARCC, or the next generation MCAS 2.0 testing results as a high school graduation requirement;

• A prohibition on incorporating “student impact” ratings, or indicators based on MCAS or other student assessment data, into teacher evaluation grades;

• New limitations on the state’s power to mandate changes at “underperforming schools”, a designation that is now largely based upon test scores.

• A new recess mandate, which requires school districts to schedule weekly at least 100 minutes of free play time for pupils in grades K-5.

Introduced by State Senator Michael Rush (D-West Roxbury), Bill S.308 has garnered the support of more than 100 other legislators on Beacon Hill, including State Rep. James Dwyer (D-Woburn). In late January it was referred to the State House’s Joint Committee on Education for further study.

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