I delivered the following testimony before the Joint Committee on Education on October 4.
Chair Garlick and Chair Lewis:
I am glad to be here with Senator Miranda, Gomez, Oliveira, and Jehlen to urge the Committee to move forward on S.246/H.495 An Act empowering students and schools to thrive – or the THRIVE Act. As you know, there are 20 Senate sponsors who have put their names on this bill.
THRIVE also has strong support in the House, with Reps. Montaño and Hawkins leading.
The bill does three things:
It ends the high-stakes graduation requirement, allowing school districts to certify that students have satisfactorily completed coursework within state frameworks and standards.
It eliminates the ineffective state school receivership process.
And it looks forward to a new day —- and a more authentic, far-reaching, and accurate system for assessing students, schools, and school districts.
Passage of the Thrive Act would mean a re-orientation of student learning that would better educate, better prepare, and better support our children — young people who are entering a complex world and need a nuanced, comprehensive base of knowledge and skills.
As you will note throughout today’s hearing, we are joined by a broad coalition of caregivers, students, educators, policy experts, researchers, and people who want a very high bar set for public education.
I’m a mom of two kids in public schools — and the wife of a public educator. I want that same VERY HIGH BAR.
Mindful of time — and our shared hope that you hear directly from those testifying today, I’ll focus only on MCAS.
Let me say clearly: I believe in academic assessment of students.
I believe standardized assessments are a part of necessary overall evaluation, so that we can see comparisons across students and school districts – and states. And we can measure student growth in actual and relative terms.
I believe in accountability.
I believe in academic excellence.
And by the way, so does every educator I know.
What I do not believe in is allowing a single, deeply flawed test to determine whether or not a student receives a high school diploma — regardless of whether that student has passed all their requisite coursework.
What I do not believe in is punishing individual students for systemic shortcomings.
The testimony you will receive today will underscore the harm done by MCAS and high stakes testing — harm to the very students I know that this Committee wants to help.
Testimony will also tell this Committee that MCAS — as it is administered now — has not meaningfully improved the learning and attainment of all students — again especially those who struggle disproportionately or are historically marginalized.
Massachusetts is one of only eight states hanging on to a graduation test while state after state has come to a similar conclusion: It’s time to end high-stakes testing.
I respectfully urge the Committee to look at the data, listen to the stories, and to report these bills favorably.