The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 27, 2002


Carlisle opposes MCAS as a graduation requirement

The Carlisle School Committee (CSC) has joined the swell of voices urging the Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) to reconsider the use of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test as a requirement for graduation from a public high school.

The committee received a resolution from Marcia Heist, chair of the Brookline School Committee, which states, "School committees and education professionals from across the Commonwealth have been attempting to engage the Board of Education and the Department of Education in conversation regarding the detrimental nature of the high stakes graduation requirement of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), to apply a single high-stakes test as a requirement for graduation." Heist asked Carlisle to join Brookline and 15 other school committees in bringing the resolution to the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

The resolution essentially calls for developing a more comprehensive system as a requirement for graduation rather than a single test, a requirement that would allow for different styles of student learning, abilities, communication, language, and performance.

The resolution also supports school districts and the "implementation of education reform by setting high standards and by holding school districts accountable for meeting those standards. We believe that the "big stick" of the graduation requirement, which holds districts accountable at the expense of individual students, is not the most effective or responsible way to ensure district accountability."

Carlisle Superintendent Fox-Melanson commented that there is disagreement in the school districts on this issue. However, in the past she felt the Carlisle School Committee had concluded that the MCAS test should not be the only measure for graduation. CSC member Michael Fitzgerald expressed the opinion that the MCAS test is a good idea. However, "It is wrong to have the MCAS be the sole judge for graduation, particularly for someone who has gone through twelve years of schooling. MacDonald's requires a high school diploma so we are creating a class of people who can't get jobs. The content of the test is really a test of the school system. Why should the kids be punished for the effectiveness of a school system?"

CSC member Nicole Burkel agreed that in urban areas the failure rate is very high and other problems will be created.

CSC member David Dockterman said, "I never support the idea that a single test is an indicator of ability. I don't think the MCAS should be the sole gauge." Acting chair Paul Morrison commented that failure of the test and schools can "create enormous social damage."

CSC chair Suzanne Smith was absent, but all members of the CSC present at the meeting voted unanimously to support the resolution as proposed by Brookline.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito