|For Immediate Release|
|Friday, May 26, 2006|
|Contact:||Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106|
Settlement Allows MCAS To Stand As Graduation Requirement
MALDEN - Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll and Attorney General Tom Reilly announced today that the state has reached a settlement in the sole remaining legal challenge against the state’s graduation requirement, upholding the Commonwealth’s right to hold all students to a uniform high standard.
The Attorney General has fought to preserve the competency determination requirement as a standard for graduation since 2002, defeating repeated attempts to block the requirement from going into effect as scheduled in June 2003. All students, beginning with the class of 2003, are required to meet their local graduation requirements and earn a passing score on both the English Language Arts and Mathematics grade 10 MCAS exams to earn a Massachusetts high school diploma.
The Department of Education and the Attorney General’s Office have worked with the plaintiffs in this case since 2004 to arrive at today’s settlement, which eliminates all pending legal challenges.
“I am pleased we were able to reach this settlement, which will allow us to focus on helping as many students as possible reach the high standards we have set for them,” Driscoll said. “We have seen steady progress in our schools under Education Reform. Today our students are getting a better education than ever before and Massachusetts is leading the nation. Our students are rising to the challenges we have set for them, and without question they are graduating better prepared for their futures than they were a decade ago.”
“This settlement is a real victory for our children. We must continue to set high expectations for them and we must do our part to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed. While this settlement maintains the high standards of the MCAS as a graduation requirement, it also incorporates measures that ensure a fair playing field for those students who struggle to pass the test,” he said. “I am delighted that the graduation requirement remains unchanged, and I commend the plaintiffs for pursuing measures that they believe will improve the quality of education in the state."
The settlement includes several provisions aimed at helping students meet the MCAS requirement and improving the quality of education statewide. Among them:
- Requiring school districts to provide students who do not pass the MCAS with written notice of post-high school opportunities for learning the necessary material and retaking the test
- Taking additional steps to ensure that students with disabilities have access to the curriculum taught to all students
- Developing guidance for school districts on improving classroom instruction for limited English proficient students
- Eliminating the requirement that students earn a minimum score of 216 on the grade 10 MCAS test to qualify for a performance appeal, while maintaining the same rigorous and substantive standards for evaluating that appeal
- Taking steps to reduce the number of students who drop out of school, including setting a state standard for a “high school graduation rate” that school districts should strive to achieve and providing information to districts and sponsoring statewide professional conferences on strategies for dropout prevention.