Thinking Citizen Blog — The Fall in MCAS Scores — How Much? Why? What to Do?
Thinking Citizen Blog — Friday is Education and Education Policy Day
Today’s Topic — The Fall in MCAS Scores — How Much? Why? What to Do?
Standardized test scores have dropped across the country during Covid. Last week the numbers came out for Massachusetts. How much of the drop is due to the inefficiency of remote and hybrid learning? how much is due to “structural racism”? What else is at work? What accounts for the performance differentials across ethnic groups? Cultural factors? Family structure differentials? What is to be done? How important is this issue relative to others? What criteria would you use to rank the urgency and importance of political issues? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
MAGNITUDE OF DECLINE: BLACK, LATINO, WHITE, ASIAN
1. “One of the starkest achievement gaps in Massachusetts was seen on the Grade 3 English/Language Arts exam, on which 32 percent of Black students met or exceeded grade level expectations, down 6 percentage points from 2019. Only 28 percent of Latino students scored that high, down 10 points from two years ago.
2. “By contrast, white students who met or exceeded expectations decreased by only 2 percentage points over the same time period, falling to 61 percent this year.
3. “Asian students remained the highest performers, with 67 percent meeting or exceeding expectations, but that was down from 72 percent in 2019.”
NB: “The districtwide declines in the Boston school system were less severe in some cases than the state, but still pushed its historically low scores even lower. In grades 3–8, just 31 percent of students met or exceeded grade-level expectations in English and 20 percent did in math, representing a decline of 4 percentage points and 13 percentage points respectively.”
SEVERAL FACTORS IN HIGH POVERTY NEIGHBORHOODS
1. “because students lost family members to COVID-19” (second link)
2. “because they were supervising their siblings instead of fully concentrating on their own schoolwork”
3. “because they were busy working to keep their family from being evicted.”
NB: According to Merrie Najimy, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the real cause of the decline is “structural racism in the form of underfunding of public schools and public health, along with housing, food, and income insecurity — factors that students bring to their learning environment.” Do you agree? disagree?
WHAT IS TO BE DONE? SCRAP THE MCAS?
1. “Yet the MCAS has become a weaponized system that reveals and protects racial biases in public education and curricula,” (second link)
2. “Supported by teachers unions, the legislation would replace the standardized test with what supporters describe as “a broader and democratically determined framework to measure school quality, along with more authentic forms of demonstrating student achievement” while creating a grant program to let teachers, students, parents and local school districts set goals for their public schools and identify what resources are needed to realize those goals.”
3. “The proposal would also require the state to offer multiple pathways for students to demonstrate that they “have met the mastery standard for the competency determination, including options that do not require a student to take a standardized test.”
A LINK TO THE LAST THREE YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED BY THEME:
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to education or education policy. Or the coolest thought however half-baked you had. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to education or education policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random education-related fact that blew you away.
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something that is dear to your heart.