|For Immediate Release|
|Thursday, March 21, 2002|
|Contact:||Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106 or Jonathan Palumbo 781-338-3105|
Options for Students Who Do Not Pass MCAS Weighed
MALDEN - Students who have not passed the MCAS exam by the time their classmates graduate will have a variety of options to consider after 12th grade, according to a new report released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Educational Policy.
The Committee was formed by Governor Jane Swift specifically to develop next steps for students who are unable to pass the statewide assessment test before graduation.
The group recommended that targeted programs be developed in high schools, community colleges, local businesses and community-based organizations to meet the variety of needs facing the students who fall into this wide-reaching category.
"Extraordinary efforts are being made to ensure all students in the class of 2003 and beyond are given every chance to graduate with their peers," said Board of Education Chairman James Peyser. "But we cannot ignore that there will likely be some who still need more time. It is for the future of those students that we have developed these options."
Board of Higher Education Chairman Stephen Tocco agreed.
"We are not going to close the door on students who need additional help in passing MCAS, getting their diplomas and continuing on to college," he said. "Public higher education will do its part to keep the door open and help students cross the threshold."
Among the suggestions:
- Develop summer and evening classes at high schools, taught by high school faculty, for regular education and some vocational-education students who came within a few points of passing.
- Expand community college programs now in development to prepare students for college level work to include preparation for the MCAS exam.
- Expand existing school-to-career programs to allow employers to hire full or part time employees who have just completed 12th grade but have not yet earned their competency determination. Each participating student would have a work-based learning plan, designed to integrate academic objectives with a meaningful work experience.
- Adapt existing adult basic education programs to include services focused on building the academic skills needed to pass the MCAS exam. To do so, training, materials and on-line tutorials may be needed to prepare teachers and tutors. These programs would be geared toward recent immigrants and students with limited English skills.
- Expand programs for students who leave school before completing the 12th grade to include a focus on passing the MCAS.
- Create an "All But MCAS," or ABM certificate, to be given to students who have completed all local requirements and are eligible for a diploma once they pass MCAS. Students with this certificate will receive an updated Student Success Plan when they leave high school, identifying specific areas in need of improvement.
"It is critical that as we get closer to June of 2003 we both acknowledge and address these issues," said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. "These students, like all of our students, deserve every possible opportunity to succeed."
Officials in higher education share that commitment, said Chancellor Judith I. Gill.
"Many public community colleges have partnered already with high schools and helped students to pass MCAS," she said. "The lessons we have learned in these successful outreach programs will enable us to duplicate our successes across the Commonwealth."