By Michael P. Norton, State House News Service

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, DECEMBER 14, 2021 (State House News Service) – State education officials are poised this week to approve a new MCAS-based student achievement program that would come with a $25 gift card for award recipients.

Education Commissioner Jeff Riley plans to recommend that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approve the program, which would be open to students with disabilities, English learners, and economically disadvantaged students who scored in the “exceeding expectations” level – a scaled score of 530 or higher – on the 2021 English Language Arts or Mathematics MCAS tests in any tested grade level.

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“The award program seeks to highlight student achievement and support the trajectory of high achieving students from traditionally underrepresented populations,” according to a Dec. 7 memo Riley wrote to the board.

Award recipients would receive the gift card, a certificate of achievement from Riley’s office, a letter of recognition from an official at their local school, and “resources” for parents or guardians to support continued high achievement. Award recipients would also send thank-you letters to teachers who supported them during the school year, Riley wrote.

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The current menu of state-supported award programs to recognize high achievement among public school students includes only awards for high school students, including the Stanley Koplik Certificate of Mastery (Koplik) Award, the John and Abigail Adams (Adams) Scholarships, and the US Presidential Scholarship Award.

The Adams Scholarship provides a tuition credit for up to eight semesters of undergraduate education at a Massachusetts state college or university, based on students’ scores on MCAS tests. Koplik recipients are eligible for an award of a non-need-based tuition credit for state-supported undergraduate courses valued at no more than the resident undergraduate tuition rate at the participating institution.

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The board is scheduled to meet Friday at 9 a.m. in Malden.