Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Commissioner's Letter to Parents and Guardians

October 2021

Dear Parent/Guardian:

Massachusetts has experienced many challenges associated with disrupted education over the past 18 months. Because the MCAS tests were cancelled in spring 2020, the results from the 2021 MCAS tests are the first statewide assessment results that we have since the onset of the pandemic to provide us with information about how those challenges and disruptions affected students' learning and progress.

The Parent/Guardian report presents your child's scores in a familiar format, but with additional information on the front page that explains some of the key differences between the spring 2021 tests and tests given in previous years, and I encourage you to read this information closely. Those differences include the administration of shorter tests to students in grades 3–8, which can cause individual student performance to vary more than usual as compared to previous years. I also encourage you to remember that MCAS results are only one measure of your child's growth and achievement. Your child's teacher can talk to you more broadly about your child's academic growth and about their social and emotional development.

Based on the statewide results from these tests and other measures, it is clear that we have work to do in the coming months and years. Indeed, like every other state in the country, many of our children have not progressed as much as we would normally expect. Fortunately, both our state and federal government have recognized the need for additional resources to meet the challenges before us. Massachusetts school districts are receiving state and federal pandemic relief money for an extended period of time, and the money can be spent by districts on a wide range of priorities in order to meet students' academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department has also released tools and resources to support educators in meeting student needs in this unprecedented time, including recommendations for curriculum and professional learning opportunities.

There's nothing more important to me than the continued academic progress of our students, and I am grateful for your continuing efforts to foster that progress. If you believe your child could benefit from additional support, I encourage you to reach out to your child's teacher or school principal to create a plan.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey C. Riley
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education

Last Updated: October 14, 2021

 
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