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    Letters

    ‘Moving the goal post’ on MCAS further damages children’s education

    The dismay in suburbs over the sudden drop in MCAS scores proves once again the arbitrary nature of the state’s so-called accountability system (“Explaining MCAS results puts schools to the test”).

    State education officials knew in advance that most students would fail to “meet expectations” for the simple reason that they set the passing score so high.

    Massachusetts students are among the very best in the world, according to international comparisons. Yet we’re failing?

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    The worst thing about the state “moving the goal post,” as one superintendent described it, is that it will do further damage to our children’s education. The laser focus on test scores is already narrowing the curriculum to what’s on the test, instead of what’s useful in life. This will ramp up the pressure to cut back on history, arts, financial literacy, recess, phys ed, career education, and even the English and math that’s not specifically going to be on MCAS. Students will practice writing five-paragraph essays for years without much opportunity to write stories or research papers.

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    It’s time the state understood what North Andover parent Sarah Tanaki said: “A test is only one measure of a school. I think what you see happening day to day reveals more.”

    Senator Pat Jehlen

    Democrat of Somerville