By Katie Lannan, State House News Service

BOSTON, JAN. 26, 2021 (STATEHOUSE NEWS SERVICE) – Approximately 5,600 Massachusetts high school seniors who have not passed the high school math or English standardized tests required to graduate will instead be able to meet the requirement by earning full credit in a relevant course.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday approved a modified standard for students in the class of 2021 who have not yet earned their so-called competency determination by passing the 10th grade math and English MCAS tests. Those seniors will be able to demonstrate their competency in the relevant subject by passing an approved class.

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The move is similar to a modification that was put in place for the class of 2020, the first graduating class whose school routines were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rob Curtin, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s associate commissioner said school districts would be required to review transcripts as part of the alternative competency determination process, and that the adjustment would not automatically grant diplomas to students.

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Curtin said there were about 3,000 students remaining who had not received their competency determination through the MCAS tests last year, and about two-thirds of them ultimately achieved it through the alternative process.

“The awarding of a diploma is still 100 percent a local decision,” he said. “There are multiple pieces to it, including the competency determination and students meeting the local requirements, so these students will still need to meet the local requirements in order to receive the diploma.”

Earlier this month, Elementary and Secondary Commissioner Jeff Riley announced a series of adjustments to this year’s MCAS tests in light of the pandemic’s continued impacts on schooling, including reduced test time for third through eighth graders.

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