By Matt Murphy, State House News Service

BOSTON, JUNE 24, 2020 . . . (State House News Service) — Sen. Jo Comerford has filed legislation that would put a four-year moratorium on school districts using the MCAS exam as a graduation requirement, extending the reprieve granted this spring as uncertainty swirls over if and how schools will reopen in the fall.

The bill would also create a commission to study alternatives to the high-stakes standardized test, which was developed in conjunction with the state’s landmark 1993 education reform law.

“Returning to learning in the fall will require complex planning, safety precautions, and possibly dramatic changes to pedagogy and curricula,” Comerford said in a statement, circulated by the Massachusetts Teachers Association. “As Massachusetts students and teachers do the tireless work of learning recovery and rebuilding community engagement and trust, pressure-filled high-stakes testing should be the very last thing on their minds.”

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The MTA, which is the state’s largest teachers union, endorsed the Northampton Democrat’s legislation, which would put a pause on the MCAS graduation requirement through the 2023-2024 school year.

“In this moment in America, there is a growing awareness of the way that systemic racism is foundational in our public institutions — including education — and there is a vibrant movement to dismantle it,” MTA President Merrie Najimy said. “Research has shown that statewide assessments like the MCAS essentially reflect and perpetuate social, racial and economic inequality.”

The union said a similar bill was being developed for the House.

(© Copyright 2020 State House News Service)

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