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MCAS testing schedule remains fluid

Westfield Public Schools Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS FILE PHOTO)

WESTFIELD – The guidance on MCAS testing this year remains fluid, according to Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski.

On a call with Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley this week, the commissioner indicated he is “very interested still in giving the test not for accountability purposes but for diagnostic information, so districts will be able to see where their students are at,” Czaporowski said, adding if a district is really struggling, the state will offer assistance.

Riley also said on the call that the state would not be naming any underperforming districts.

Some of the changes include modifying the Competency Determination for the Class of 2021.

Since the make-up MCAS administration window for 12th graders was postponed, Riley is recommending to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that the competency determination (CD) requirement be modified in English language arts and mathematics for students in the Class of 2021 who have not yet earned their CD.

The recommended modification would allow students to receive their CD by passing an approved course and demonstrating competency in that subject in lieu of a qualifying MCAS score. This modification was already made for the seniors for their science CD.

Seniors who still want to take the tests may take them later this school year. Members of the class of 2021 will have opportunities to receive additional academic support this spring and summer.

Grades 10 and 11 are still scheduled to take the ELA and Math MCAS later in the spring. Grades 10 and 11 will not test in Science and will earn their CD through successful completion of coursework.

Grade 9 students are still scheduled to test in science in June.

The commissioner is also going to shorten the testing window for students in grades, 3 through 8, cutting the testing time by 50 percent for these students.

Czaporowski said that Riley also commented on the fact that last year Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had approved an MCAS waiver, but said she was not going to give states another waiver this year.

However, on Jan. 7 DeVos resigned, and will be replaced in the new administration by Connecticut education commissioner Miguel Cardona. Czaporowski said with the new administration coming in, the waiver could be granted again, which would then have to be approved by the Massachusetts legislature.

Czaporowski said if they do receive a reprieve, he wouldn’t be too upset. He also stated the difficulty of giving the tests in person, given the high number of COVID-19 cases, adding that Riley says he’s open-minded to have students take the test at home if it’s not for accountability.

“A lot of superintendents prefer we don’t give it at all due to added stress for the kids. At least there’s some flexibility being demonstrated, so we do appreciate that,” Czaporowski said.

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