The student news site of Wayland High School

Wayland Student Press

The student news site of Wayland High School

Wayland Student Press

The student news site of Wayland High School

Wayland Student Press

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April 13, 2024
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Should Massachusetts schools shift away from the MCAS?

Credit: biologycorner on Flickr
Join WSPN’s Jeffery Zhang as he interviews students and educators about the validity of the MCAS test and other standardized tests. “I think [scores on the MCAS] properly represent a student’s knowledge, but I think it could have a few more very challenging questions to really push some students who are very diligent biology students,” WHS science teacher Mary York said.

Standardized testing has been employed as a required test for schools across the globe. In the U.S., standardized testing is used for a variety of purposes, ranging from admissions tests, to IQ tests and language proficiency tests. However, some educational associations reject the validity of standardized testing and argue for a shift towards more reliable methods of evaluating a student. Some students at Wayland High School feel that standardized testing doesn’t show the full extent of their learning capabilities.

“I feel like [standardized testing] doesn’t show how smart somebody is,” sophomore Max Crowe said. “I can definitely see some of the benefits [educators] get from standardized testing, but there’s a lot of room for improvement in terms of shaping the tests.”

Students at WHS are required to take the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) during the spring of their freshman and sophomore years in both English language arts (ELA) and mathematics subjects. Although some standardized tests are used to judge intelligence, Jacqueline Reis of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education clarifies how the MCAS is used.

“Statewide assessments such as MCAS help parents, students, educators and policymakers determine where districts, schools and students are meeting expectations and where they need additional support,” Reis said.

Reis also says that the MCAS is continuously being adjusted.

“Over the last 10 years, we have worked to improve the MCAS, moving to a computer-based format, ensuring questions are reviewed by multiple committees and working with educators to ensure that the assessment reflects what students need to know to be ready for the next grade level,” Reis said. “We continue to make adjustments to statewide testing. For instance, we’re piloting a new science assessment in grades five and eight that’s designed to better reflect real-life science tasks, and we’re field testing an eighth grade civics MCAS.”

Although standardized testing can be used to gauge the level of a student’s intelligence, some students at WHS think that standardized tests can also highlight other aspects of a student.

“I think standardized testing shows more of how much time a student dedicates to studying than their intelligence,” sophomore Ved Archarya said.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, some colleges and universities allowed standardized testing, ACT and SAT, scores to be optional, and the question of whether or not standardized testing was even needed for college admissions arose.

“I know a lot of people who have gotten into some pretty good universities while applying for the optional test,” sophomore Armaan Desai said. “I’m not sure how much standardized testing really matters.”

Although there is still a push for schools to shift away from standardized testing, standardized testing can be beneficial to educators to see how a school or district is performing. WHS science teacher Mary York has been preparing students for the MCAS for years, and thinks that schools should not shift away from the MCAS or standardized tests.

“I am against getting rid of all standardized tests,” York said. “I think it is not a perfect system, but teachers are human and just like any other profession, they respond to expectations and incentives. While most science teachers are very passionate and diligent about teaching, I have seen how low standards [are] in some other states [that allow] for lots of wasted time and low output.”

Although the MCAS can be seen as indicative of a student’s intelligence, Reis explains that the MCAS shouldn’t be the only factor considered when evaluating a student.

“While the MCAS is just one piece of a student’s academic picture, it is an important, objective piece of information both about a student’s own knowledge and whether their school and district are effectively teaching the material included in the Massachusetts state standards,” Reis said.

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About the Contributor
Jeffery Zhang, Copy Editor
Jeffery Zhang, Class of 2026, is a second year reporter for WSPN. Jeffery plays soccer and tennis for WHS. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends. Contact: [email protected]
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    Irma BeaupreMar 11, 2024 at 8:13 PM

    I believe that they have gone far past this test, and Teacher’s should be Teacher’s and be able to teach our children more than what is on that test