Low MCAS Scores Signal We May Finally Be Measuring the Right Things

The 2017 MCAS scores have been released and headlines are blaring that the scores have gone down.  This is actually good news!

Massachusetts finally retired the old MCAS test that was designed in the 1990’s to measure basic proficiency, ensuring that all students were educated to the same minimum level.  Over time, what was intended to be a “floor” became a “ceiling”.  In today’s world, this is simply too low a bar.  With 30% of students graduating unprepared for college level coursework and 75% of employers reporting they cannot find qualified candidates to fill jobs, we needed a new assessment that could measure what students need to know in the 21st century.

Scores were expected to drop during the transition to a test that actually provides honest and useful feedback throughout K-12 about whether students are on track for college and career.  For employers, the ability to trust that a high school diploma means a student has the knowledge and skills to be ready for the workforce is long overdue.  And, for students, being able to access postsecondary opportunities without spending time and resources on remediation will be a game changer.

MBAE’s Educating Students for Success Report provided evidence that the state’s  old MCAS, which some call “legacy MCAS”, did not indicate a student’s readiness for success after high school.  We will be looking for evidence that the new MCAS is better aligned with the postsecondary expectations students face today and it the future.


What the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is calling the “Next-Generation MCAS” was taken by students in grades 3 through 8 last spring.

A Parent’s Guide is available at the DESE website, along with information presented to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at the September meeting.

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