|For Immediate Release|
|Thursday, September 5, 2002|
|Contact:||Jim Borghesani or Sarah Magazine 617-727-7259, or Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106|
Swift Announces Passing Rate Up To 81 Percent For Class Of 2003
BOSTON - In her third State of Education Address, Governor Jane Swift today spoke directly to the Class of 2003 as she announced that, to date, 83 percent of students in the Class of 2003 have now passed the Math portion of MCAS exam, and 88 percent have passed the English section.
In all, 81 percent of the 63,767 students in the class of 2003 have passed both the English and math MCAS exams and have earned the competency determination needed to graduate. Prior to the May retest, 76 percent had passed both exams.
The Class of 2003 is the first class required to pass the MCAS in order to receive a diploma.
During her remarks, Swift re-affirmed her belief that every child deserves a world class education. She also pledged her continuing support to ensure that all children, regardless of race, income or zip code will have the opportunity to learn.
“Nine years ago we began with a commitment to improve our school system, to give meaning to a Massachusetts diploma and to provide every child with the skills needed for a lifetime of opportunity,” said Swift. “We’ve invested nearly $27 billion in our schools and we’ve partnered with teachers to create advanced curriculum frameworks and high standards and today we’re seeing the results of that hard work and commitment. Your success is a testament to the very spirit of education reform, to what is possible when teachers and students join together and commit to a path of excellence.”
For those students who have yet to succeed on the exam, Swift pledged that they would have her continuing support and the tools they need to achieve their goals. Swift announced that the number of opportunities to take the focused MCAS exam will be expanded from two to four. Starting next September, the first re-test of the school year will be given in early fall, soon after students complete summer tutoring programs. The second re-test will be administered in February, to ensure that students receive their results well before the end of the school year. With the addition of these re-test dates, students will now have seven opportunities to pass MCAS before the end of their senior year.
Swift also announced that she is extending the eligibility for students in the Class of 2003 to participate in remediation programs through the summer of 2003 and that she has directed the Department of Education to increase this year’s remediation grants for high schools to sixty percent of the total grants. Students who meet local graduation requirements this year, but have not reached the MCAS standard will now be able to attend free tutoring programs throughout the summer at their school or workplace and will be able to take another re-test in the fall.
“These steps will provide even greater opportunity for success and will continue the progress we’ve made in reforming our education system, progress that began with the commitment of teachers, parents, communities and government to work together for our children,” said Swift. “Progress that has been advanced by our students rising to the challenges of high standards and refusing to give up.”
Last week, Swift released the results of the 2002 MCAS exam, announcing that the results were a further indication that education reform is working. The results of this exam indicate that higher percentages of tenth graders are now passing both the English and Math sections of the MCAS on their first try. Scores from the 2002 exam also show that the achievement gap between white and minority students is beginning to close.
Despite current fiscal conditions, Chapter 70 funding, the core of the state’s education budget has remained intact, and Swift highlighted the bipartisan support to maintain spending levels and devote more than $50 million the extra help programs. This funding will ensure that every district in the Commonwealth has the resources to provide school budgets that are at or above foundation levels.
“In the end, it’s not really about MCAS and grades, or school boards and budgets,” said Swift. “It’s about our children and providing them with the skills, talent and ability to live a life full of promise and opportunity.”