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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Contact:Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106 or JC Considine 781-338-3112

Education Board Votes to Postpone History Graduation Requirement

Requirement Waived for Classes of 2012 and 2013

MALDEN - The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 8-2 Tuesday to waive for at least two years the history and social science subject graduation requirement slated to kick in for students in the class of 2012. "I have not come lightly to this decision, and I am deeply committed to the teaching and learning of history and social science as part of a well-rounded curriculum," Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester said. "As we increase requirements for graduation, we need to ensure that districts are adequately resourced to provide support for students, particularly those who may struggle to meet the new requirements. I believe that it would be imprudent to add history to the graduation requirement at a time when budgets are so tight that funding for academic support and other services for students is likely to be scaled back significantly." Commissioner Chester today asked the Board to postpone adding History and Social Science to the graduation requirement so that school districts, facing significant budget challenges, can focus their funds on delivering core services and the necessary student support in the three subjects that currently make up the requirement - English language arts, math, and science and technology/engineering. History testing in all grades (grades 5, 7, and 10/11) for 2009 and 2010 as well as the graduation requirement for high school students will be suspended. The high school History and Social Science exam was slated to become part of the state's graduation requirement for students beginning with the class of 2012. The Board voted in October 2006 to start the new requirement with the class of 2012, so that students meet or exceed the Needs Improvement scaled score of 220 in history and social science - in addition to requirements in English language arts, mathematics, and science and technology/engineering - as a condition for high school graduation. History and Social Science pilot tests were administered in 2007 and 2008 in grades 5, 7 and 10/11, and were slated to go fully operational this fall. But with declining revenue and increasing costs in the state's budget, officials expect the FY2010 budget item pertaining to assessment to be lower than the amount in this year's budget, which would make the transition of the history tests cost-prohibitive. State and local governments are facing serious budget challenges due to an unprecedented nationwide recession. Amid significant budget cuts throughout state government, Governor Patrick has protected the record high level of Chapter 70 education aid for FY09, and maintains that funding in FY10. Chester said he will monitor the budget in the coming years and hopes to establish a timeline for reinstating the MCAS history and social science assessments and graduation requirement as soon as possible. "Even if student assessment is level funded next year, we will have insufficient funds to maintain our current program and transition history and social science into a fully operational testing program," Chester said. "I regret having to make this recommendation, but the difficult times that confront us require difficult decisions."

Last Updated: February 24, 2009

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