MA lawmakers consider suspending standardized testing

22News looked at how it could impact the college application process.

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – House and Senate lawmakers have signed on to a bill that would suspend standardized testing — the MCAS or the new PARCC exam, as a graduation requirement for three years. Education leaders are considering whether there’s a better way to evaluate students and what they know — without the pressure.

“A lot of students will sit down and do their homework and have really good grades but sometimes you can’t sit down and take a test. Some people can’t sit still. It’s hard, especially for those with learning disabilities as well,” said Chicopee High junior Lauren Foley.

College admissions counselors don’t even look at MCAS scores, but students can’t graduate and get to college without passing them. And that puts pressure on teachers.

“Many schools are judged and get their funding based on how their students do on MCAS. Schools can be taken over by the state if their underperforming year after year. I think many schools have had to alter the curriculum to teach to the test,” said AIC Director of Undergraduate Admissions Jon Scully.

And many educators say they instead want to teach for life.

“It’s not testing whether a student is creative or imaginative. It’s not testing whether they can problem solve or communicate with their fellow students to come up with critical thinking solutions to real world problems that we want them to be solving,” said Chicopee High teacher Jake Hulseberg.

Education commissioner Mitchell Chester admitted more needs to be done to bridge the gap between wealthier and poorer communities. But he fears getting rid of standardized testing could jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.

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