Before education reform and statewide testing in the 1990s, Massachusetts students 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. 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 schools are reaching all students.
When scores show students are not meeting basic learning standards, schools and districts can adjust instruction to address those areas. In addition, parents and the public can ask questions and ensure educators are taking action.
Statewide testing 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.
State test scores are just one piece of a student's academic picture, but they are important information. Why does testing matter? Because you deserve to know where your child, school, and district stand.
Last Updated: February 11, 2022
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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