If you’re from Massachusetts, you’re probably familiar with the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). The purpose of MCAS is to improve curriculum and instruction, evaluate student and school performance, and to partially determine whether or not students receive high school diplomas.
The system was designed in 1993 by the Massachusetts Department of Education. according to Paul J. Phillips of the Quincy Education Program, “The MCAS test hurts kids.” Phillips stated, “[Massachusetts] should end it immediately.”
It is safe to say that close to no one actually enjoys MCAS. The questions are confusing, the test wastes time and money, and it stresses people out. The question is, why do we still use this system?
The one consistent answer to the question is that standardized testing provides good comparison of schools and students. Besides comparing schools and students, there is no true beneficial purpose for the exams.
In my opinion, the MCAS does not help me in any way. Students are forced to complete the assessment on top of the classes they already have scheduled. The system should not work this way. If students are going to be forced to take the MCAS, at least give the students the rest of the day off rather than attend a full set of classes afterwards.
Some argue that MCAS helps teachers determine what to teach students and when to teach it. This results in teachers “teaching to the test” which in turn limits what teachers can or want to teach because they are obligated to teach exactly what MCAS wants them to. It is then difficult for teachers to implement fun or useful lessons.
Other than MCAS, there are plenty of other ways that the state can gain results to compare schools and students. There could easily be a much shorter assessment that doesn’t require so much writing and mind-numbing questions. Perhaps even online surveys or tests. The chances that any student or teacher is against removing MCAS is very slim. MCAS, this year, will be 23 years old. It is time for a change.