Why should kids take the MCAS?

Do not disturb...
Do not disturb…

THE OPINION of this newspaper is mixed on taking the MCAS, which we are taking now.

The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests us on English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. It counts what we learn and compares how students, schools, and districts perform statewide.

We in the newsroom discussed our opinions about MCAS. Here are a few quotes:

• “MCAS doesn’t really matter. Different people learn different ways. You can’t have one test for everyone and expect them to sit down and do it.”

• “MCAS is meant to see how well the teachers are teaching us. They shouldn’t be pressuring us to do it well. They shouldn’t be forcing us with the practices.”

• “It’s good and bad because the state is giving the teachers stuff to teach that’s going to be on the MCAS that we have to learn. It’s stressful having math every day.”

• “I’ll tell you, it’s really stressful! But what’s on the MCAS the teachers have already been teaching us, so we’d know it pretty well. It’s kind of a waste of time to learn it all over again.”

• “I think that MCAS, if it’s a test that’s supposed to count how well the teachers are teaching us, then I don’t think they should be pressuring the kids. Maybe they can just can get a copy of some kid’s report card to prove they were taught properly.”

Sarah Jetzon, director of Curriculum and Assessments for grades 7-12, says a B in a class here might not translate to a B in another school, district, or state.

‘BSE has been working really hard on improvements…’

Sarah Jetzon, director of Curriculum and Assessments for grades 7-12, says a B in a class here might not translate to a B in another school, district, or state.

Asked for comment, Sarah Jetzon, director of Curriculum and Assessments for grades 7-12, told us schools are ranked at levels from 1 to 5 on how well they perform at MCAS, and that schools with lower-level scores get extra help from the state.

She said BSE is at level 1, the top of the scale, up from level 3 just a couple of years ago.

“That’s because of improvements they’ve made. They’ve been working really hard to do that,” she said.

She said the idea nationwide is to have an accountability measure for schools to make sure children are getting the education they’re entitled to in ELA, math, and science.

Jennifer L. Lagoy, director of Curriculum and Assessment, PK-6, thanked all the people who worked on this year’s ELA MCAS.
She thanked the students first:

“As I have visited schools this year I have noticed all of you working hard to prepare for the MCAS. I saw many of you learning strategies for taking the ELA MCAS and practicing them with your teachers and classmates.”

She thanked the teachers next for their hard work. She also thanked the principals, proctors, and volunteers:

“There were many people who gathered to serve our students breakfast and snacks on their test day. The work that you do is essential and appreciated greatly,” she said.


This piece emerged from a Flow workshop unit on editorial writing. The opinions belong to Flow staff; adviser John Snyder supplied additional reporting.

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