The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Statement on MCAS
September 27, 1999
Our purpose today is to begin a public discussion that will ultimately lead to a decision on where to establish the threshold for the state's competency determination, which is to be a graduation requirement for the class of 2003.
The discussion today will focus on the various issues that together comprise the parameters of this issue, within which we can establish the performance standards students must meet to demonstrate competency.
In setting the stage for this discussion, I want to make clear what we are not doing today. We are not making any final decisions; we are merely beginning our deliberations. We are not discussing what level of performance on MCAS will be required for high school graduation. That discussion will come on another day, after we have had a chance to consider the issues on today's agenda and after board members have had a chance to thoroughly review the most recent MCAS tests, which were just released last week. A decision on the performance standard will not come until we have had a chance to see the most recent results, which will not be available until November.
In reviewing the tests, board members should consider their overall faithfulness to the frameworks, their fairness and reasonableness in light of our expectations for 10th graders, and the basic competency of the questions within the several subject areas.
Over the next few weeks, prior to our October meeting, I encourage board members to read test questions carefully and to consult with department staff to ensure that they are personally knowledgeable and comfortable with those parts of the MCAS that may be included in the competency determination. The Commissioner has assured me that his staff will be available to answer questions or meet with board members, individually or in small groups.