Saturday, 2:15 PM
Budget cuts push back history MCAS 2 years
By Jamie Vaznis, Globe Staff
MALDEN -- The state Board of Education voted today to delay the start of the 10th-grade MCAS history exam by at least two years because of deep budget cuts and financial constraints.
In an 8-2 vote, the board acknowledged that during such tough fiscal times it could not introduce a new test that might cause school districts to spend tens of thousands of dollars to retrain teachers and revamp curriculum. The test had been scheduled to begin as a pilot program this spring and be administered to high school juniors next year, becoming a graduation requirement for the class of 2012.
The board voted to put off the graduation requirement until at least 2014 and left open the possibility that the test could be pushed back again if the state's fiscal situation does not improve.
Mitchell Chester, commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, outlined his rationale for delaying the history MCAS in a letter posted on the state Board of Education website.
"Even at current funding levels, we will have insufficient funds to maintain our current program and transition our pilot history and social science tests to a fully operational assessment program," Chester wrote. "While our history and social science tests are part of our state education reform program, unlike reading, mathematics, and science and technology/engineering tests, they are not required by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law."