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In-person test an unfair burden on English learners

A student works on analyzing his English composition in preparation for the MCAS.Landers, Tom Globe Staff

While we applaud the decision of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to allow students in grades 3 through 8 to take the MCAS tests remotely this spring, the policy does not address the inequity of in-person testing required for English learners. In addition to MCAS, English learners take an annual English proficiency test, ACCESS for ELLs, which is only administered in person. As a result, while their peers have the option to complete all testing remotely, English learners, many of whom live in communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, still need to go into school buildings for in-person ACCESS testing. This is an inequitable policy that favors some students over others.

Additionally, as many students return to in-person learning for the first time all year, we believe English learners will benefit more from time spent on academic learning, language development, and social-emotional support than on taking tests. We call on Commissioner of Education Jeffrey Riley to immediately postpone in-person ACCESS for ELLs testing for this school year, as allowed by federal guidance.