Before education reform and statewide testing in the 1990s, Massachusetts students were lagging behind other states and too often graduated from high school without the basic reading and math skills needed to succeed in life.
Today, Massachusetts students are #1 in the country in reading and math. In reading, they are #1 in the world.
So how did this happen? In the early '90s, the state passed a law that included high learning standards, consistent funding, more choices for families, and accountability for how well students are being served. Part of that act included statewide assessments to make sure all students are learning.
When scores show students can't meet basic learning standards, schools and districts can adjust instruction to address those areas. Parents and the public can ask questions and ensure educators are taking action.
Statewide testing, which accounts for approximately 1 percent of class time each year, provides information to educators, helps parents check their child's and school's progress, and lets taxpayers know if they are getting a good return on the tax money they invest in schools.
Statewide assessments also help the state know where to focus its efforts, whether that be on individual struggling schools or wide subject areas, like early reading or middle school math. Without testing, those needs would remain hidden.
Yes, state test scores are just one piece of a student's academic picture, but they are an important factor. Why does testing matter? Because you deserve to know where your child, school, and district stand.
Last Updated: February 2, 2018
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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