Acheivement through standardized testing

By Denebola
Published: March 2008

By Idun Klakegg

Despite mixed feelings among students and faculty toward MCAS, passing the test is a state-wide requirement to graduate high school and access certain scholarships.
According to South English department head, Fran Moyer, the MCAS is a necessary requirement to graduate as it is “a way to encourage students to take the test seriously, and to make sure [the] students receive training in basic reading and writing skills.
She adds that the MCAS measures only “one part of a student’s abilities and that there are other extremely important skills that are important in the 21st century, like “artistic, creative, technical, critical thinking, [and] interpersonal skills.
English teacher Jeremiah Hill, also believes the MCAS graduation requirement is a valuable motivational tool, but adds that because of the graduation requirement, the MCAS “acquires a stature it does not deserve.
Adding to the stature of the MCAS, there is a scholarship based solely on a student’s performance on the MCAS.
To receive the John and Abigail Adams scholarship, one must perform to an ‘ËœAdvanced’ level on either the English language or mathematics sections of the sophomore MCAS, and be ‘ËœProficient’ in the other section. The student must also be in the top 25 percent of their school district on both of these sections put together.
Only available to public The University of Massachusetts, the seven state colleges, and the 15 community colleges, and waives tuition for a traditional eight-semester undergraduate education.
To receive the scholarship, one must first be accepted into the college, and throughout the college years, must maintain a 3.0 GPA.
The fact that the scholarship is based solely on the MCAS causes some debate.
Hill does not “really have a problem with it, but [thinks] there are a thousand better ways to select people for scholarships¦ scoring high on the MCAS doesn’t say much about your fitness for college.
“[A scholarship based on the MCAS] is a way to honor kids across the state who have done well on the test. It also makes sure that students take the test seriously [and thus makes sure the scores reflect a seriousness of purpose for data collection purposes], Moyer said.
She adds that “If Massachusetts is offering scholarships for MCAS excellence, [she] hope[s] lots of kids take advantage of it. Applying for scholarships is a terribly time-consuming, difficult job for kids and¦kids scoring in the top 25 percent automatically qualify for this aid.

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