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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Expectations for History and Social Science Instruction in 2009-2010

To:Superintendents, Principals, and Directors of Charter Schools,
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D.
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:March 13, 2009

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As you are likely aware, on February 24, 2009, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to approve my recommendation for a two-year suspension of operational MCAS History and Social Science testing and to waive the Competency Determination (CD) requirement for the graduating classes of 2012 and 2013. As a result of this decision, no MCAS History and Social Science tests will be administered in grades 5, 7, or high school in spring 2009 or spring 2010.

Provided sufficient funds are available, we expect to resume MCAS History and Social Science testing in spring 2011 and to require students in the graduating class of 2014 to pass the U.S. History assessment to earn a CD.

As one who believes that history and social science are essential to a high-quality education, I found the decision to delay this assessment difficult. However, I also believe that it is imprudent to add additional requirements for graduation at a time when deteriorating fiscal conditions make it unlikely that resources for academic support and intervention will be increased.

Preparing students for responsible citizenship remains a primary mission of our public schools. While I understand that schools and districts face serious fiscal challenges, I expect you to continue to devote appropriate instructional time to the core academic standards for history, geography, civics, and economics as identified in the Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework and, at the high school level, to align your programs of studies with the MassCore recommendation of three years of history instruction in high school.

Last Updated: March 18, 2009

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