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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 25, 2001
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman, 781-338-3106 or Jonathan Palumbo, 781-338-3105

MCAS Appeals Process Considered by Board of Education

Malden - Pledging to stay committed to having all students meet a minimum standard before handing out high school diplomas, the state Board of Education on Tuesday gave a first look at a draft of a multi-step appeals process for students who repeatedly fail the MCAS exam.

Students will only be considered for an appeal if they can show clear evidence that they meet the state’s minimum standard of 220 in other ways other than on the MCAS exam.

Aimed specifically at students who have done well in their academic classes and have made an effort to improve, Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll stressed that an appeals process does not mean the standards have been lowered.

"We can’t turn a blind eye to students who have otherwise shown they can meet this standard, but for whatever reason cannot do it on MCAS," he said. "This is the most important appeals policy process we have ever dealt with."

Under the proposal, superintendents will submit appeals for students who have failed multiple MCAS retests, but meet eligibility requirements for the appeal.

This could include having maintained a good attendance record the previous year, completed a certain number of MCAS remedial activities, and achieved a minimum score on the exam.

Appeals will keep the student’s name anonymous, and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by Performance Review Boards.

The final decision on each appeal will be made by Commissioner Driscoll, who will receive recommendations from the review boards. The decision will be based on the eligibility criteria, other assessments and evidence that the student's performance in the classes they took in the subject for which they are requesting the appeal is similar to other students who passed the exam.

A Blue Ribbon Committee, which included superintendents, teachers unions, business leaders, parents, board chairman James Peyser, and board vice-chairman Henry Thomas III, provided input on the draft proposal.

Mr. Thomas said the group made it a priority to develop a process that would ensure all students – including those who meet the appeals eligibility requirements – are held to the same standards.

"We wanted to ensure equity," he said. "Everyone was concerned about opening up the floodgates for this to become a get out of jail free card. But under what we have created, for the students who qualify, there will be no question that an appeal is necessary."

A full version of the proposal will come back to the board for a vote to seek public comment in October. A final version of the plan will be voted on by the board early next year.

For more information on the MCAS, visit the Department of Education website www.doe.mass.edu/mcas.



Last Updated: September 25, 2001
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