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If Mass. doesn’t have a robust summer school this year, ‘shame on us,’ Baker says

Governor Charlie Baker spoke Thursday during a press conference at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center vaccine clinic at La Colaborativa in Chelsea.
Governor Charlie Baker spoke Thursday during a press conference at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center vaccine clinic at La Colaborativa in Chelsea.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Given the disruptions to traditional learning that Massachusetts students have faced in the past year, Governor Charlie Baker implored education leaders Thursday to organize a “robust summer school” program for students to help combat learning loss from the pandemic.

With federal funding made available to states and local communities, Baker said, “we have to have a really robust summer school program for kids. And if we don’t have one, shame on us.”

Speaking during a press conference at the La Colaborativa headquarters in Chelsea, Baker said that by the summer, the majority of the general population who wants to be vaccinated against the coronavirus will have had the opportunity, and it will be vital to start thinking about preparing kids for the next academic year.

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“We really need to make sure that we do all we can for kids to ensure that by the time they get back to school in the fall or the time they go off to college or whatever it might be, that we’ve given them a significant opportunity to catch up on all that’s been lost,” he said.

Baker’s comments came the same day that state Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley announced a proposal to waive the MCAS graduation requirement for the Class of 2022, current 11th-graders. For the past two decades, students have been required to pass the MCAS exams to graduate from high school.

The proposal would also allow students in grades 3 through 8 who are learning from home to take the MCAS remotely.

Baker called Riley’s idea “a tiered approach” to dealing with academic assessments. He said state leaders have had to take into account a variety of issues when deciding about testing for the year: logistics, time, and alternative strategies for figuring out where kids are academically.


Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.